Background: Various types of automated hematology analyzers are used in clinical laboratories. Here, we performed a side-by-side comparison of five current top of the range routine hematology analyzers in the setting of a university hospital central laboratory.
Methods: Complete blood counts (CBC), differentials, reticulocyte and nucleated red blood cell (NRBC) counts of 349 patient samples, randomly taken out of routine diagnostics, were analyzed with Cell-Dyn Sapphire (Abbott), DxH 800 (Beckman Coulter), Advia 2120i (Siemens), XE-5000 and XN-2000 (Sysmex). Inter-instrument comparison of CBCs including reticulocyte and NRBC counts and investigation of flagging quality in relation to microscopy were performed with the complete set of samples. Inter-instrument comparison of five-part differential was performed using samples without atypical cells in blood smear (n=292). Automated five-part differentials and NRBCs were additionally compared with microscopy.
Results: The five analyzers showed a good concordance for basic blood count parameters. Correlations between instruments were less well for reticulocyte counts, NRBCs, and differentials. The poorest concordance for NRBCs with microscopy was observed for Advia 2120i (Kendall’s τb=0.37). The highest flagging sensitivity for blasts was observed for XN-2000 (97% compared to 65%–76% for other analyzers), whereas overall specificity was comparable between different instruments.
Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the most comprehensive side-by-side comparison of five current top of the range routine hematology analyzers. Variable analyzer quality and parameter specific limitations must be considered in defining laboratory algorithms in clinical practice.