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What is a bleeding time test?

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A bleeding time test involves creating tiny cuts on the skin, and it allows doctors to evaluate the ability of blood platelets to create clots for stopping bleeding, explains Healthline. Platelets are small blood cell fragments responsible for closing a wound when a blood vessel injury occurs. Doctors order a bleeding test to diagnose continuous bleeding, particularly when patients experience excessive bleeding after minor incisions or punctures.

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Patients with acquired platelet function defects, which occur after birth and involve overproduction or underproduction of platelets, may have abnormal results after taking a bleeding time test, notes Healthline. Abnormal results also may signal a blood vessel defect, genetic platelet function defect, thrombocytopenia or Von Willebrand's disease, which are conditions affecting blood vessel or platelet function.

Preparation for a bleeding test involves stopping intake of aspirin and other medications that affect blood clotting and wearing short-sleeved clothing for easy access of the arm, states Healthline. During the test, a nurse rubs antiseptic on the arm to reduce risk of infection and then inflates a pressure cuff around the arm.

The next steps are making two tiny cuts on the lower arm, removing the cuff, blotting the wounds with paper once in 30 seconds and putting on bandages when the bleeding stops, according to Healthline. The nurse records when the bleeding stops, and the doctor monitors the speed of blood clotting.

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