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If you’ve ever had blood drawn or an intravenous injection, you’ve experienced a venipuncture procedure. This is the term used to describe any puncture of the vein in a medical setting and can be performed to remove blood from the body or to add substances like medication, fluids and diagnostic dyes. While this is a very common medical procedure most people are familiar with, many patients have questions about the possibility of complication.

Inflammation and Infection Risks of Venipuncture

Any time the surface of your skin is broken, the U.S. National Library of Medicine reports, there is some risk of infection. Proper cleaning of the site prior to puncture dramatically reduces any infection risk, though patients with compromised immune systems and the elderly are more likely to experience serious blood infections like sepsis.

Cellulitis is another rare complication, but it’s more likely to occur when fluids are administered than after a simple blood draw. Cellulitis is inflammation or infection below the surface of your skin, and while rare, can usually be treated with oral antibiotics at home.

Bleeding Complications Associated with Venipuncture

Researchers at The University of Maryland Medical Center state that some patients will occasionally bleed longer than is expected after a venipuncture procedure. Most of the time, bleeding complications occur in patients with medical conditions like hemophilia, or those taking blood thinners, aspirin therapy and some other drugs.

An accumulation of blood beneath the skin known as a hematoma can also occur, leaving the area puffy to the touch with purple, red or even black discoloration. Far more commonly, patients will simply experience a bruise at the venipuncture site.

The Fear Factor

One set of complications, known as vasovagal complications, result from anxiety regarding needles. Patients with a deep fear of venipuncture may hold their breath, or even have a neurological fear response which can include low blood pressure, near fainting, actual fainting and profuse sweating. There is the possibility of sustaining injury due to a fall after fainting, up to an including head and limb injuries.

In the vast majority of cases, though, the only complication is minor pain during the procedure. Very rarely, a nerve may be struck by the needle which can cause more severe pain.

If you have concerns about the safety of a venipuncture procedure, call the Family Diagnostic Clinic to schedule an appointment. We’ll discuss the risks and benefits, working together to find the best methods of protecting your health and wellness.

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