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Definition Return to top
Bleeding time is a blood test that looks at how fast small blood vessels close to stop you from bleeding.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
A blood pressure cuff inflates around your upper arm. While on the cuff is on your arm, the health care provider makes two small cuts on the lower arm. They are just 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 health care provider records the time it takes for the cuts to stop bleeding.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
Certain medications may change the test results. Always tell your doctor what medications you are taking, even over-the-counter drugs. Drugs that may increase bleeding times include dextran, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and salicylates (including aspirin).
Your doctor may tell you to stop taking certain medicines a few days before the test. Never stop taking medicine without first talking to your doctor.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
The tiny cuts are very shallow. Most people say it feels like a skin scratch.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
This test helps diagnose bleeding problems.
Normal Results Return to top
Bleeding normally stops within 1 to 9 minutes. However, values may vary from lab to lab.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
Longer-than-normal bleeding time may be due to:
Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:
Risks Return to top
There is a very slight risk of infection where the skin is broken. Excessive bleeding is rare.
References Return to top
Schafer A. Hemorrhagic disorders: Approach to the patient with bleeding and thrombosis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 178.Update Date: 3/2/2009 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.