What Is Phlebotomy?

Phlebotomy refers to the procedure in which a needle is utilised to extract blood from a vein, typically located in the arm. Commonly known as a blood draw or venipuncture, this technique plays a crucial role in the diagnosis of various medical conditions, with each specific test usually developed through IVD contract development.

Therapeutic phlebotomy is a medical procedure that involves the withdrawal of blood for the purpose of treating specific health conditions. Instead of being sent to a laboratory for testing, the blood is extracted to address issues such as excess red blood cells, abnormally shaped red blood cells, or an overabundance of iron in the bloodstream. This treatment is commonly utilised for individuals who are experiencing the following conditions:

  • Hemochromatosis
  • Polycythemia vera 
  • Porphyria cutanea tarda
  • Sickle cell disease, also known as sickle cell anaemia
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

What to Expect

Most blood tests do not require any preparation on your part. However, there are some tests that may necessitate fasting for a period of 8-12 hours beforehand. Prior to your appointment, your doctor will provide you with the necessary instructions.

When getting blood drawn, you will be seated or lying down. The healthcare professional will instruct you to form a fist with your hand. Subsequently, they will wrap a band, known as a tourniquet, around your upper arm. This action causes your veins to become more visible, facilitating the insertion of the needle into the appropriate location.

You may feel a pinch or sting when the needle goes into your arm. The needle will be attached to a small tube that lets your blood flow into a test tube or bag.

During medical testing, if blood needs to be drawn, it might be necessary to fill multiple test tubes. Typically, this procedure is completed within a brief span of time, taking only a few minutes.

If you are undergoing a treatment that involves blood extraction, the duration of the procedure varies depending on the required amount of blood. Typically, it takes approximately 2-3 minutes to obtain a sufficient sample for testing purposes.

Once the desired amount of blood has been collected in the lab, the nurse or technician will carefully withdraw the needle from your arm, release the tourniquet, and apply a bandage to the puncture site. They may request you apply light pressure on the gauze area for a short period until the bleeding subsides. It is possible that you will be required to keep the bandage on for several hours.

Potential Hazards and Adverse Reactions

There are minimal dangers involved. Though the procedure may cause some discomfort, you can expect to recover quickly afterward.

If the sight of blood bothers you or if you have a fear of needles, you may experience feelings of nausea. This is a common reaction known as a vasovagal response, which is triggered by your nervous system. It can lead to dizziness, sweating, and a decrease in heart rate or blood pressure. In some cases, you may even lose consciousness.

Employing relaxation methods such as deep breathing can potentially be beneficial. Additionally, directing your attention towards alternative stimuli can serve as a means of diversion.

If you experience dizziness afterwards, it is recommended to either lie down or sit down and bend forward, placing your head between your knees until the sensation of lightheadedness subsides.

During the following day, it is possible to observe redness or bruising in the area where the needle was inserted. The spot might also feel slightly tender. However, these side effects typically subside shortly after.

The physician may recommend increasing your fluid intake, refraining from consuming alcohol and minimising physical activity within the next few hours.

History of Phlebotomy

Throughout history, bloodletting has been practised by humans for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, and it later gained popularity among the Greeks, Romans, and subsequently spread to Asia and Europe.

The technique was previously utilised as a widely employed remedy for various medical ailments like fever, headache, reduced appetite, and digestive problems.

George Washington, the inaugural president of the United States, underwent a medical procedure that sparked controversy due to the significant volume of blood drawn. This occurred In 1799, after he fell ill with a fever following his exposure to wintry conditions. In an attempt to cure him, his physicians made the decision to extract approximately 40% of his blood. Sadly, George Washington passed away the subsequent evening.

Throughout history, it became evident that bloodletting was an ineffective and occasionally perilous treatment. By the conclusion of the 19th century, its prevalence had significantly diminished.

In contemporary Western society, phlebotomy serves the purpose of conducting medical tests and treating a limited number of blood disorders.