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TCO2 Testing


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TCO2 Testing

Total Plasma Bicarbonte Testing, (TCO2), or Milkshaking refers to the administration of a buffering agent to a horse immediately prior to a race. The buffering agents are typically weak bases such as sodium bicarbonate and can be administered orally or through a nasogastric tube directly into the horse’s stomach. The theory behind administration is that lactic acid is the cause of muscle fatigue and by neutralizing this acid with a base, the muscle will not fatigue as quickly and, therefore, the horse has more stamina. Milkshaking is prohibited and most jurisdictions test for the administration of such products.

ISU RC utilizes the NOVA-4 Electrochemical analyzer for TCO2 testing.  This instrument is calibrated using the Verichem® CO2 standard kit.  Additional quality assurance is provided by running and monitoring the Australian National Measurement Institute certified reference material.

Blood samples are collected from the animal at the track or event into serum separator Vacutainer® tubes.  The tube is inverted several times and then left to sit.  After 30 minutes the sample tube is centrifuged at 2000 rpm for 20 minutes.  The sample is boxed up and sent to the testing lab with ice packs.  The sample is never frozen.  Freezing will destroy the sample.  Once the sample is received into the lab, testing commences and must be tested within 4 days of draw.

Contact information:  phastlab@iastate.edu or call 515-294-1950 for more information on TCO2 testing.


Renee Novak

Jackie Peterson





Click on images below
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Transport boxes for
blood tubes

Transport toolbox
Transport "toolbox" cooler for TCO2 blood tubes 
TCO2 transport cooler