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Venipuncture

Venipuncture is the collection of blood from a vein, usually for laboratory testing.

Alternative Names

Blood-draw; Phlebotomy

How the Test is Performed

Most of the time, blood is drawn from a vein located the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

  • The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic).
  • An elastic band is put around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area. This makes the vein swell with blood.
  • A needle is inserted into the vein.
  • The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle.
  • The elastic band is removed from your arm.
  • The needle is taken out and the spot is covered with a bandage to stop bleeding.

In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.

How to Prepare for theTest

The steps you need to take before the test will depend on the kind of blood test you are having. Many tests do not require special steps.

In some cases, your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test. Do not stop or change your medications without talking to your doctor first.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted. You may also feel some throbbing at the site after the blood is drawn.

Why the Test is Performed

Blood is made up of two parts:

  • Fluid (plasma or serum)
  • Cells

Plasma is the fluid part that contains substances such as glucose, electrolytes, proteins, and water. Serum is the fluid part that remains after the blood is allowed to clot in a test tube.

Cells in the blood include red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets .

Blood helps move oxygen, nutrients, waste products, and other materials through the body. It helps control body temperature, fluid balance, and the body's acid-base balance.

Tests on blood or parts of blood may give your doctor important clues about your health.

Normal Results

Normal results vary with the specific test.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results vary with the specific test.

Updated: 4/24/2013

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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