Preferred Sample Type

Bilirubin (Total)

Suitable Specimen Types

  • Serum
  • Li Hep Plasma
0.2 mL blood (1 x paed Lith Hep)

Sample Processing in Laboratory


Sample Preparation


Turnaround Time

1 day

Sample Stability

Non-haemolysed serum or heparinised or EDTA plasma from fasting patients are the specimens of choice. Both direct and total bilirubin undergo photo-oxidation or dehydrogenation to biliverdin or other intermediate products upon exposure to white light, either artificial or sunlight.

Serum bilirubin may drop as much as 50% after one hour exposure to sunlight. For optimal stability, both darkness and low temperature are necessary.


At room temperature, in total darkness, samples are stable for 2 days. Samples are stable for 4 to 7 days in the refrigerator and frozen samples are stable for 3 months if totally protected from light.


Bilirubin (Total)

General Information

Bilirubin measurements are used in the diagnosis and monitoring of liver disease, haemolytic anaemia and in the assessment of severe jaundice, especially in neonates.

Patient Preparation



Lipaemia and haemolysis cause interference in samples from adults. Haemolysis does not cause interference in neonatal samples.

Reference Range

14 days - Adult    <21 umol/L

(Source : Pathology Harmony Recommendations)



  • EQA Scheme?: Yes
  • EQA Status:


The laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital form part of the services provided by University Hospitals Birmingham and are UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited to the ISO 15189:2012 standard. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the UKAS website using the following link:

  • Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospital pathology laboratories are a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8217
  • United Kingdom Health Security Agency laboratory is a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8213

Tests not appearing on the UKAS Schedule of Accreditation currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

For further test information, please visit the test database:

Protection of personal information - Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and its employees to comply with the Data Protection act  1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235