Blood Draw: Common Venipuncture Sites
Venipuncture is procedure of collecting blood or administering IV therapy and drugs through a vein. Where that particular vein is located is called a venipuncture site.
There are three common venipuncture sites, as shown through the BD Diagnostics, and one that provides a possible alternative when other areas are inaccessible. Anywhere else is considered inappropriate.
Three Common Venipuncture Sites
- Median cubital vein
This is the most commonly used sites for drawing blood, located at the bend of the elbow. The superficial vein lies over the cubital fossa, which is why it is also known as the antecubital fossa. The reason why most phlebotomists use the median cubital vein is that it provides excellent access, what with the veins being larger, and easier to see and feel. Still, phlebotomists need to be careful when drawing blood in this area, because of the biceps tendon and the brachial artery that lies just below the median cubital vein, and poses a major health risk when punctured deeply.
- Cephalic vein
This superficial vein runs under the skin on the outer side of the upper arm and lower arm, shown in both forearm and arm. It is commonly accessed on the forearm, instead of the upper arm. As it stretches right down to the thumb, it can be accessed from the inside of the wrist as well. Most of the time, a cephalic vein is used for venipuncture site only when scarring is present in the antecubital space, or when the median cubital vein is hard to see and feel.
- Basilic vein
The basilic vein is shown in the forearm and arm, running along the inner side of the forearm and upper arm. Blood is usually drawn in the forearm, because veins in the upper arm turn inwards to become a deep vein. Since deep veins run along the arteries, risk of puncture must be avoided at all times.
Dorsal metacarpal veins
Not exactly a common choice, these are found in the middle of the hand, and is commonly used for intravenous infusion. In the event that the antecubital vein is inaccessible, the dorsal metacarpal veins provide a viable alternative. As a policy, however, most hospitals require that Phlebotomy is performed first in the antecubital area, and intravenous line and work on the dorsal metacarpal veins.
Venipuncture should not be performed on the hematomas, edematous areas, scarred areas, arm in which blood is being transfused, sites above an IV cannula, arms on the side of mastectomy, and arms with fistulas or vascular grafts.