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Speedy analysis in the consulting room

A desktop CRP reader gives rapid results, says Dr Gio Caranci

The QuikRead CRP brings rapid desktop analysis to the consulting or treatment room. It can be used to obtain an accurate C-reactive protein (CRP) result within minutes. The acute measurement may be useful in distinguishing between viral and bacterial infections.

The machine's application may be limited in general practice because many of us have easy access to laboratory facilities and it is unusual to require a CRP on its own without other tests being organised at the same time. That aside, if you need to perform a CRP and need the result quickly, this system is ideal.

The complete kit
The analyser is a souped-up photometer that uses changes in absorbance to generate results compared to standard data encoded on a magnetic card.

The complete kit is extensive and includes the desktop analyser, the mains adapter, the reagent, an ingenious dispenser, appropriate tubes and a tray to store it all on. Each pack contains enough capillaries, reagents and tubes for 50 tests.

There is a simple-to-follow manual as well as a CD multimedia presentation with step-by-step instructions. The unit is portable because it can also run on 8 AA batteries.

The analyser is the size of a pocket textbook, with a narrow LCD screen on the top. The screen prompts you throughout the test process. It also displays any error messages and the final reading. The analyser is compact yet surprisingly it weighs in at a hefty 1.3kg. It comes with a dust cover to protect the sensitive reader equipment. Behind the screen is the measurement well and the magnetic card reader. The latter is used to calibrate the unit for the appropriate test.

The back of the unit houses all the electrical ports including a power switch, an ethernet-T socket, bar code reader and serial printer connector, but there is no USB port.

Once the unit is switched on, passing the magnetic card through the reader will calibrate the unit. The unit also performs a self-check.

A small amount of the reagent is then added to a test tube. These have levels marked on the side of the tube to stop you overfilling them.

Prick of blood
A finger prick of blood is all that is needed for analysis. Special capillary tubes are used to collect the blood. The capillary tube is prepared by adding the plunger. The blood is then drawn up and added to the test-tube by depressing the capillary plunger.

The test tube is then sealed with the special reagent dispenser lid.

This is gently shaken, then placed in the measurement well of the analyser.

You are then prompted to press the dispenser lid to add the second reagent, and then asked to remove and shake the tube until the analyser bleeps.

Fast result
The tube is then returned to the measurement well and within seconds a result appears. The whole process is complete in a couple of minutes.

To produce a hard copy, a printer can be attached via the printer port, although the printout will only show the test number, date of test and result. Otherwise you need to manually add the result to your clinical system.

It is important to record the result from the unit before removing the test tube, because once removed the result disappears and will be lost.

Do not to use a mobile phone near the unit because this can interfere with its function.

Although it sounds a little daunting, once done a few times, the process can be undertaken quickly and easily. If you need rapid access to CRP results, then the QuikRead CRP lives up to its name.

- An independent review by Dr Gio Caranci, a GP in Kettering, Northampton

- Equipment supplied by Williams Medical Supplies Ltd

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