Laboratory Technology: Osmometry

Recent Advances in Osmolality Testing Automation

Most clinical laboratories frequently utilize a freezing point osmometer for routine analysis of serum and urine osmolality measurements. The osmolality test provides a total concentration of solutes present and is routinely ordered to help generally evaluate the water balance in the body. In addition, the test informs diagnoses of a broad range of clinical applications, including the assessment of renal function, investigation of hyponatremia, toxic alcohol screening and monitoring of osmotically active drug therapies like mannitol.1

Freezing point osmometry is arguably one of the most versatile diagnostic tests available, and new applications for its use continue to evolve. Additionally, it remains a profit center for laboratories performing the test since its running cost per test remains considerably lower that the Medicare reimbursement rate.

Current Test Procedures

Historically, osmolality testing is a relatively low volume test for many laboratories. Because of this, most laboratories have chosen to adopt a single sample osmometer for routine testing. While these systems offer sufficient testing capacity and performance, they require a substantial amount of manual sample handling and tech time to complete. It is estimated that as much as 6 minutes of operator time is required to perform one reportable osmolality test. The risk of reporting errors is elevated due primarily to the labor-intensive manual processes.

Recent Automation Improvements

It is no surprise to hospital laboratory administrators that current osmolality testing practices using single sample osmometers are misaligned with the industry trend to improve automation and minimize labor requirements. A new multi-sample osmometer, developed by Advanced Instruments, has been developed for laboratories performing osmolality testing in order to meet this growing trend. It has been specifically designed to automate many aspects of osmolality testing while providing a host of automation benefits compared to single sample units. The OsmoPRO provides sophisticated new features, including:

  • Touch screen operation with intuitive software control
  • 20 position multi sample capacity
  • Integrated 2D barcode scanner
  • Improved LIS interface capabilities
  • Built in quality control functionality

The overall goal with the development or the OsmoPRO was to provide clinicians a system that would provide accurate osmolality test results while minimizing the resources required to achieve these results.


  1. Dufour, Robert D. 1993, “Osmometry-The Rational Basis for Use of an Underappreciated Diagnostic Tool.” Presented as an Industry Workshop at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, New York, New York. July 13,1993

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