What Is Venipuncture and Its Complications

In medicine, venipuncture is perhaps one of the most routinely performed invasive procedures for gaining intravenous access. It is generally performed to obtain blood samples for diagnostic purposes, or to check the levels of blood components. In addition, this procedure is also carried out sometimes to administer various treatments like chemotherapy, medications or nutrition to patients.

Medical professionals may also perform venipuncture when there is a need to remove blood due to the presence of excessive amounts of red blood cells or iron in the body of a patient. Its use is also very common in collecting blood for future use, for example, in blood transfusions. Venipuncture is the preferred procedure for the sampling of venous blood.

Venipuncture is performed in the following cases-

  • When there is a need of blood analysis through a sample

  • In cases where blood has to be taken from the superficial veins of the limbs of the upper body

  • When there is a need to puncture the vein for adding a substance or removing blood

  • A scalp vein set is a specialized device that can be used for venipuncture.

What are the potential complications of venipuncture? 

Although venipuncture is one of the most extensively used procedures in medicine, it is nonetheless not free of some potential risks. If care is not practiced, there may be several potential risks of complication. It important to first understand the potential risks related to venipuncture and only then perform the procedure ensuring care.

What are examples of complications that may arise during or after the procedure?


1#    Bleeding complications

After a venipuncture is performed, bleeding complications cannot be ruled out especially in patients suffering hemophilia or other such health conditions. Similarly, those who take aspirin or any such drug that thins the blood may suffer complications from the procedure. Accumulation of blood under the skin of the patients is also reported in a number of cases. Plus, there may be a risk of bruising as well.

2#    Infection and inflammation complications

A risk of infection is always present during and after the procedure. Cellulitis is a type of infection that happens in the tissue below the skin surface and its chances increase when fluids are introduced. The possibility of a vein inflammation (phlebitis) or a blood infection of a serious variety (Sepsis) can also be expected post venipuncture.

3#  Vasovagal complications

Another potential complication related to venipuncture is the patient experiencing a vasovagal reaction or anxiety and nervousness in reaction to the use of a needle. So, in some cases, patients may actually faint, start sweating profusely or show some other strong response to the fear of needle. Other likely problems may include convulsions or respiratory distress.

4#    Pain-related complications     

Pain is a common complication of venipuncture which is experienced in a good number of patients. In most cases, the pain may be of mild nature bit can might become severe in case the needle strikes a nerve. This may in extreme cases, lead to permanent nerve damage.

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