Left Shift 1+ flag for the detection of band neutrophils: interlaboratory variations and recommendations for the routine laboratory
Introduction: Microscopic differential analysis of leukocytes is a time-consuming activity for routine diagnostic laboratories. The criteria used to decide whether a manual differential should be performed should therefore be as strict as possible. The goal of this investigation was to give recommendations for the use of the left shift (LS) 1+ flag, which signals the presence of band neutrophils. Methods: The LS1+ flag of the ADVIA 120 and 2120 hematology analyzers was evaluated in 6 peripheral hospital laboratories in the Netherlands. In 2683 samples with exclusively a LS1+ flag, the percentage of band neutrophils were determined microscopically. A set of photographs of neutrophils were used to examine the differences between laboratories in the assessment of band cells. Results: In 18% of all samples with only a LS1+ flag, 5% or more band neutrophils were found. However, this percentage differed greatly between laboratories, as did the proportion of samples that received a LS1+ flag. Several factors were found to influence the amount and accuracy of the LS1+ alarm, i.e. band neutrophil counting by microscopists, specificity of request for leukocyte differentials, percentage of general practitioners requesting a leukocyte differential, and sample storage. Based on these findings, a number of recommendations were formulated. Conclusion:; Critical control of the factors influencing the LS1+ flag can significantly decrease the number of microscopic samples to be reviewed and may be valuable for every laboratory performing routine differentials, using any type of hematology analyzer.