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Bleeding time test

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A bleeding time test is a standardized medical procedure for determining platelet function.

The physician uses a scalpel to make a precise incision 10mm long and 1mm deep. The cut is made on the underside of the forearm, away from any hair or visible veins. A blood pressure cuff is used to maintain a constant and standard blood pressure of 40mmHg through the patient's veins during the test. Blood is blotted every 30 seconds until the cut takes on a glossy appearance showing the formation of a platelet plug, and is completed when bleeding has completely stopped. A result of less than 9 minutes and 30 seconds is normal, but the actual time usually ranges widely from 2 to 9 minutes.

An alternative method is to prick the patient's fingertip or earlobe with a needle. The normal time for bleeding to stop with this method is 1 to 3 minutes.

The bleeding time test is usually preferred to other methods of determining whether a patient has a coagulopathy, such as blood tests, because bleeding time is solely a result of platelet function. It could, however, either mean a lack of platelets, or that the platelets aren't functioning properly.

Blood thinners, such as aspirin, warfarin and heparin will increase bleeding time.

The conditions that will be considered when the bleeding time is longer than normal are von Willebrand disease, thrombocytopenia, DIC, Bernard-Soulier syndrome and Glanzmann's thrombasthenia.

Bleeding time at Wikipedia

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