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Bleeding time

Bleeding time is a medical test that measures how fast small blood vessels in the skin stop bleeding.

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Blood clot test

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How the Test is Performed

A blood pressure cuff is inflated around your upper arm. While the cuff is on your arm, the health care provider makes two small cuts on the lower arm. They are just deep enough to cause a tiny amount of bleeding.

The blood pressure cuff is immediately deflated. Blotting paper is touched to the cuts every 30 seconds until the bleeding stops. The provider records the time it takes for the cuts to stop bleeding.

How to Prepare for the Test

Certain medicines can change blood test results.

How the Test will Feel

The tiny cuts are very shallow. Most people say it feels like a skin scratch.

Why the Test is Performed

This test helps diagnose bleeding problems.

Normal Results

Bleeding normally stops within 1 to 9 minutes. However, values may vary from lab to lab.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Longer-than-normal bleeding time may be due to:

Risks

There is a very slight risk of infection where the skin is cut.

Related Information

Thrombocytopenia
Acquired platelet function defect
Congenital platelet function defects
Von Willebrand disease

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Bleeding time, ivy - blood. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:181-266.

Pai M. Laboratory evaluation of hemostatic and thrombotic disorders. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 129.

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Review Date: 1/29/2019  

Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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