Procedure For Obtaining a Red Blood Cell Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Level

September 23, 2004

1. Patients should fast overnight. If not feasible, fast at least 4 hours prior to the blood draw.

2. Use a 5 ml EDTA - Lavender top vacutainer tub (Becton Dickenson Catalog #DB366452 or #DB367863). Collect about 3 ml of blood in an EDTA tube. The tube should be labeled with the PATIENT'S NAME and the DATE THE BLOOD WAS DRAWN.

3. The patient's blood should be packaged in a Specimen Collection Kit provided by the laboratories below only on request from your physician. Your physician should fill in the required information on a Test Requisition Form, available at the websites of the laboratories listed below, and request a RBC DHA level which is part of a RBC total lipid fatty acid profile.

4. Send the lavender EDTA tube of whole blood at room temperature by same day courier on the day collected (Mondays through Thursdays only) in a Specimen Collection Kit following kit instructions for packaging and shipping along with the Test Requisition Form to either one of the three laboratories listed below to arrive within 24 hours after the specimen was drawn via DHL or Federal Express:

Peroxisomal Diseases Laboratory
Kennedy Krieger Institute
707 North Broadway, Room 530
Baltimore, MD 21205
Tel # 443-923-2788
Fax# 443-923-2755
$150.00 with specimen

Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratory
63 Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Tel# 800-522-4762
Fax# 828-252-9303
$150.00 with specimen

Metametrix Clinical Laboratory
4855 Peachtree Ind. Blvd
Norcross, GA 30092
Tel# 800-221-4640
$150.00 with specimen

A report will be sent within about 1 month. Adults with typical retinitis pigmentosa on vitamin A palmitate 15,000 IU/day and an omega-3 rich diet should strive to have a RBC DHA level of 4% or greater of total RBC fatty acids. If the level is 4% or greater, the level could be rechecked annually. Patients who have not achieved this level should consult with their physician on ways to increase their RBC DHA level through food intake and then recheck their level about 3 months after changing their food intake (See Archives of Ophthalmology 122:1306-1314, 2004).

Disclaimer: The listing of these suppliers and their tests should not be misinterpreted as a recommendation or indication of proprietary interest in any of these companies.