To compare potassium concentrations in feline plasma and serum samples analyzed promptly after collection or after 20 to 28 hours of refrigerated storage.
A venous blood sample was obtained from each cat. Aliquots were placed in 2 tubes without anticoagulant (blood was allowed to clot to derive serum) and 2 tubes with heparin (to derive plasma). One serum and 1 plasma sample were kept at room temperature and analyzed within 60 minutes after collection (baseline); the other serum and plasma samples were analyzed after 20 to 28 hours of refrigerated storage. At both time points, serum and plasma potassium concentrations were measured.
Median baseline serum potassium concentration (4.3 mmol/L) was significantly higher than median baseline plasma potassium concentration (4.1 mmol/L). The median difference between those values was 0.4 mmol/L (95% CI, 0.2 to 0.5 mmol/L). Compared with their respective baseline measurements, the median serum plasma concentration (4.8 mmol/L) and median plasma potassium concentration (4.6 mmol/L) were higher after 20 to 28 hours of refrigeration.
Results indicated that with regard to potassium concentration in feline blood samples, clotting or refrigerated storage for 20 to 28 hours results in a significant artifactual increase. Detection of an unexpectedly high potassium concentration in a cat may represent pseudohyperkalemia, especially if the blood sample was placed in a no-additive tube, was stored for 20 to 28 hours prior to analysis, or both.