I have a blood test every six weeks. I find the blood test stings when the needle is administered and wondered whether there is a limit to the number of times a needle can regularly be inserted into the same vein? Could the vein be damaged in any way?
As with any other part of the body, you are likely to get vein damage and scarring following repeated trauma. The needles used for blood tests are designed to minimise damage to the vein, but repeated blood tests are still likely to cause scarring.
Eventually the vein can become so scarred, and the wall so damaged, that it cannot be used for blood tests, but the number of times varies widely from person to person. This will not cause any serious damage to your circulation or to the blood supply to any part of your body, but it does make taking blood tests from that vein more painful and much more difficult.
There are several sites on the arms that are routinely used for blood tests – as well as the crook of the elbow, there are often reliable veins at the wrist on the thumb side or on the backs of the hands. However, blood tests from these may be more difficult to perform.
It is worth having a word with your phlebotomist (the specialist who takes your blood) to ask if they can alternate veins if you’re having blood drawn frequently as this will give each location more time to heal.
Answered by the Health at Hand nurses