The drying of a drop of blood or plasma on a solid substrate leads to the formation of interesting and complex patterns. Inter- and intra-cellular and macromolecular interactions in the drying plasma or blood drop are responsible for the final morphologies of the dried patterns. Changes in these cellular and macromolecular components in blood caused by diseases have been suspected to cause changes in the dried drop patterns of plasma and whole blood, which could be used as simple diagnostic tools to identify the health of humans and livestock. However, complex physicochemical driving forces involved in the pattern formation are not fully understood. This review focuses on the scientific development in microscopic observations and pattern interpretation of dried plasma and whole blood samples, as well as the diagnostic applications of pattern analysis. Dried drop patterns of plasma consist of intricate visible cracks in the outer region and fine structures in the central region, which are mainly influenced by the presence and concentration of inorganic salts and proteins during drying. The shrinkage of macromolecular gel and its adhesion to the substrate surface have been thought to be responsible for the formation of the cracks. Dried drop patterns of whole blood have three characteristic zones; their formation as functions of drying time has been reported in the literature. Some research works have applied engineering treatment to the evaporation process of whole blood samples. The sensitivities of the resultant patterns to the relative humidity of the environment, the wettability of the substrates, and the size of the drop have been reported. These research works shed light on the mechanisms of spreading, evaporation, gelation, and crack formation of the blood drops on solid substrates, as well as on the potential applications of dried drop patterns of plasma and whole blood in diagnosis.
- Dried blood drop patterns
- Salt-induced drying patterns
- Sessile drop evaporation
- Tension-caused cracking patterns
- The "coffee ring" effect