Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page

 

Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Bleeding time

 

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

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.

  • Tell your health care provider about all the medicines you take.
  • Your provider will tell you if you need to temporarily stop taking any medicines before you have this test. This may include dextran and aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Do not stop or change your medicines without talking to your doctor first.

 

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:

  • Blood vessel defect
  • Platelet aggregation defect
  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)

 

Risks

 

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

 

 

References

Schafer A. Approach to the patient with bleeding and thrombosis In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 174.

Schmaier AH. Laboratory evaluation of hemostatic and thrombotic disorders. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, Heslop HE, Weitz JI, Anastasi J, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 131.

BACK TO TOPText only

 
  • Blood clot test

    Blood clot test

    illustration

    • Blood clot test

      Blood clot test

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

        Tests for Bleeding time

         
         

        Review Date: 1/27/2015

        Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
        adam.com

         
         
         

         

         

        A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.