MSACL 2018 US Abstract

Topic: Practical Training

Understanding the Importance of System Suitability Testing for Monitoring Instrument Health

Philip Sobolesky (Presenter)
University of California San Diego

Bio: I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Bloomsburg University with a minor in chemistry in 2009 and my Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2014. I completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at MUSC in the Nephrology proteomics laboratory. Currently, I am a Clinical Chemistry Fellow at the University of California, San Diego and an active member of AACC, ASMS, and MSACL. I am training to become an A.B.C.C. certified director of an academic clinical laboratory. My research is on establishing the reference ranges for driving impairment following marijuana consumption. My long term goal is to be actively involved in creating laboratory developed tests using mass spectrometry, mentor future fellows and lead translational research in biomarker discovery as an A.B.C.C. certified clinical chemist.

Authorship: Philip Sobolesky, PhD (1)
(1) University of California San Diego, CA

Short Abstract

High performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry is becoming a fixture in the modern clinical laboratory. The ability to describe the health status of your instrument is essential for accurate and reproducible patient results. The purpose of this presentation will be on the significance of selecting, developing, and monitoring a system suitability test for your triple quadrapole mass spectrometer. The focus will be on addressing the use of the system suitability test for monitoring the health of your instrument demonstrated by examples of troubleshooting abnormal system suitability results.

Long Abstract


Laboratory developed tests using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry are important for patient care and are becoming a fixture in the modern clinical chemistry laboratory. An understanding of the basics of the triple quadrapole mass spectrometer is crucial for clinical chemists and laboratory scientists. Diagnosing symptoms of instrument malfunction before results become unreportable takes experience. One tool for monitoring your instruments health status commonly used by LC-MS/MS clinical laboratories is a system suitability test (SST). The focus of this talk will be on discussing the significance of a SST for properly evaluating instrument performance.


This presentation will define the uses of a general and assay specific SST. It will discuss the various considerations to monitor associated with selecting the correct analyte for your SST such as peak retention time, peak area, and peak height. It will define what a SST is and is not able to tell us. Also, it will explain the acceptance criteria used for reviewing the SST data to better understand the current health status of your instrument.


Several real-life examples will be presented to show how periodic checks and system suitability testing can predict adverse events and prevent unexpected instrument down-time. The examples will summarize how to interpret what the SST results mean and the corrective actions taken before continuing with patient testing.

Conclusions & Discussion

By the end of the session users should be able to:

1. Describe how to properly select an analyte for system suitability testing.

2. Identify the importance of monitoring multiple parameters for verifying instrument health.

3. Interpret a SST to distinguish a healthy instrument from one that needs troubleshooting.

References & Acknowledgements:

I wish to thank the Toxicology laboratory at UCSD.

Financial Disclosure

Board Memberno

IP Royalty: no

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