When your physician orders blood for laboratory testing, the blood can be drawn via capillary puncture or venepuncture. This means that needle puncture is the method for obtaining the blood sample, and either the capillary or the vein is chosen as the source of the blood draw.
Found throughout the body, capillaries are thin hairlike structures that carry blood from arteries to veins.
Veins, much larger than capillaries, transport blood from capillaries to the heart. There are hundreds of veins in the body that would cover an estimated 60,000 miles if laid end to end.
Also known as a finger stick or heel stick, capillary puncture involves jabbing the skin with a sharp needle (lancet) and collecting the resulting drops of blood onto a slide or test strip.
Venepuncture requires a trained health care professional to tap a vein with a needle and syringe, usually one running along the inner elbow (antecubital fossa), but the back of the hand, wrist or even jugular vein may be used if necessary.
Capillary puncture is less invasive, quicker and generally less painful than venepuncture. Minimal training allows diabetics and others who need frequent blood testing to do this at home. Venepuncture, however, offers more blood for testing, which often leads to more accurate test results.
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