Distributions of concentrations of free glycerol in clinical plasma obtained for triglyceride assay were compiled to determine the frequency with which increased concentrations of free glycerol posed a potential problem for clinical interpretation of triglyceride results. Clinical histories were studied in patients with increased concentrations of free glycerol to ascertain possible reasons for the increase and to assess the relative clinical importance of glycerol-blank-corrected triglyceride results. Significant increases in free glycerol were very uncommon, usually occurring in patients receiving glycerol-contianing hyperalimentation fluids, heparin (which causes both in vivo and in vitro increases in free glycerol), or those critically ill. Free glycerol was never increased significantly in a large outpatient population. Monitoring lipid metabolism in critically ill patients, or measuring true triglyceride concentrations in patients receiving glycerol-containing fluids, may represent rare exceptions for which glycerol-blank correction is necessary for accurate clinical diagnosis and management. We conclude that there is insufficient justification for the routine expenditure of extra time and reagents to correct most analytical enzymatic triglyceride methods for free glycerol.
- economics of laboratory operations