EDTA is the chemical compound ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. EDTA or its disodium salt is a chelating agent, forming coordination compounds with most divalent (or trivalent) metal ions, such as calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) or copper (Cu2+).
Use as an anticoagulant
EDTA works as an anticoagulant by chelating all the calcium contained in blood. Calcium is needed for coagulation to occur; without calcium blood will not clot. The calcium levels below which clotting ceases are low enough to be lethal, so EDTA is only used as an anticoagulant outside the body; for instance in tubes of blood, and medical machinery.
EDTA is contained in purple, lavender and pink Vacutainer (tubes that blood is taken in), and can be in the form of a powder, or a small amount of liquid, already in the tube.
The sodium or potassium salts of EDTA (K2EDTA, K3EDTA, Na2EDTA) are used in Vacutainer tubes. This means levels of these ions are increased, and detectable levels of calcium and magnesium are decreased. For this reason many clinical chemistry tests are not done using plasma from EDTA tubes.
Last updated: 06-02-2005 00:03:06