Labeling errors can prove costly, whether you’re handling patient samples in a clinical lab or sensitive specimens in a research lab. These errors can lead to a patient receiving the wrong diagnosis or labs arriving at incorrect conclusions, all of which costs money, time, and can also affect patient’s lives. As such, it is imperative that laboratories use the appropriate biomedical labels for the given application.

Choosing the Right Biomedical labels

When choosing the appropriate label, two primary factors should be considered, the container to be labeled and the environment it will be exposed to. Particular containers will require labels that have a specific adhesive to ensure proper adhesion. This can include metal surfaces or reusable containers that will often be relabeled, thus necessitating removable biomedical labels. The shape, size, and configuration of the label must also be taken into account, as medical syringes, cryogenic straws, microscope slides, and microtubes all require a slightly different type of label design.

The environment the label and container are likely to encounter is also important, as this can cause the label to fail or become smudged or smear if not adequately considered. For example, microscope slides used in histology require labels that will resist various solvents and histological stains. In contrast, sterilization labels must withstand the elevated temperatures used during sterilization protocols, including in steam autoclaves and dry heat ovens. However, the most common condition encountered in laboratories is the low temperature of freezers and liquid nitrogen tanks used throughout the research field to store samples. This requires the use of cryogenic storage labels that will not fall off during long-term storage or fade over time.

Cryogenic Storage Labels

Given the number of samples stored by labs and the extended time they may be required to stay in cryogenic storage, the choice of cryo labels is vital. The type of container must still be considered, as cryo straws will require a label that will conform to its small diameter, while metal racks will need cryo labels with an adhesive designed for metal surfaces, and microplates necessitate a narrow label that can adhere to the limited space available. Moreover, the location in which the container will be stored will alter the requirements the biomedical labels must meet. Storage in refrigerators and freezers will only require freezer-grade labels that resist deep-freeze conditions (-80°C). In comparison, storage in ultra-low temperature freezers and liquid nitrogen tanks will require cryogenic labels that can withstand temperatures as low as -196°C.

The use of custom cryo labels may also become necessary depending on your unique application. One such construct that can be invaluable to labs, biobanks, and other institutions that handle a large number of samples stored in cryogenic storage is cryogenic labels for frozen surfaces. These cryogenic labels are designed to adhere to already frozen vials and tubes directly. This allows sensitive samples stored in cryogenic storage to be labeled/relabeled without the need to thaw them first, which can negatively affect their contents’ integrity. Available in transparent and blackout formats, these cryogenic labels for frozen surfaces are a versatile option when frozen cryo vials are discovered with outdated or incomplete information and require relabeling.

LabTAG has a vast catalog of durable biomedical labels to help address the daily challenges you may face in the lab. They also have a dedicated and experienced support team always ready to help you design custom cryo labels and identification solutions for the unique requirements your applications may present.