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Phlebotomy Terminology


Below is a list of the most commonly used phlebotomy terminology and their definitions in alphabetical order.

And, while it's a great reference guide for students and medical professionals alike, it's a lot more than just that!

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Memorizing terms can be tedious, but important, so we've ditched the old flash cards and created a dynamic study tool you can take anywhere!

Not only is this a great resource for students, it also makes an effective reference for those working in the professional field.

Plus, you can access our Glossary of terms anywhere - on a computer, on your mobile phone or download it and access it offline!

So, be sure to bookmark this page and use this as a reference or a study guide anytime, anywhere!

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How To Use As A Practice Test

Click the "Show/Hide All" button to hide the phlebotomy term definitions on the right. Next, go down the list and recite each meaning, just as you would with old fashioned flash cards. To check your answer, simply click on the terms respective definition (the grayed out box to the right of the abbr.) and the answer will appear.

AbsorbTo suck up or take in.
AcuteRapid onset or short course in reference to disease.
AdsorbTo attract and gather material on the surface.
AerobicRequiring molecular oxygen to grow.
Airborne PrecautionsGuidelines or rules recommended by the CDC for reducing the risk of airborne transmission of infections.
AlbuminMain protein in human blood.
AllergenAn antigenic substance capable of producing an immediate-type hypersensitivity (an allergy).
AnaerobicLiving or occurring in the absence of molecular oxygen.
AnaphylaxisA serious allergic reaction that can be life threatening.
AnemiaA condition that causes a decrease in the amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood.
AnestheticA drug that causes a loss of sensation or unconsciousness.
Antecubital fossaThe part of the arm at the bend of the elbow.
AnteriorDirected toward the front or in front of.
AntibodyA specialized immune protein produced because of the introduction of an antigen into the body that possesses the remarkable ability to combine with the very antigen that triggered its production.
AnticoagulantA substance that prevents blood from clotting.
AntigenA substance that stimulates the immune system to create antibodies.
Antihemophilic factorA protein that participates in the clotting of blood. Also knows as Factor VIII.
Anti-platelet agentsMedications which reduce the tendency of platelets in the blood to clot or clump.
AntisepticA substance that discourages the growth of microorganisms.
ApheresisA process in which blood is temporarily withdrawn from a donor, one or more components are removed (plasma, etc), and the rest of the blood is reinfused back into the donor.
ArterioleA small branch of an artery that leads to a capillary.
ArteryBlood vessel carrying oxygen-ruch blood away from the heart.
AsepticAbsent or free from microorganisms.
AspirateDraw a substance in with suction.
AutohemolysisHemolysis of red blood cells by a persons own serum.
BacteremiaThe presence of bacteria in the bloodstream.
Basilic veinLarge vein on the inner side of the biceps that is usually chosen for blood drawings.
Bleeding-timeA test that measures the time it takes for small blood vessels to close and the bleeding to stop.
Blind stickThe term given to performing a blood draw with no visible or palpable vein.
BloodThe red liquid that circulates in the arteries and veins that carries oxygen to and carbon dioxide from the tissue of the body.
Blood-borne pathogensMicroorganisms present in human blood which cause disease.
Blood cellAny of the cells found circulating through the blood. The main three are red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Blood clotA semi-solid mass of blood formed by platelets.
Blood countAn evaluation of the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets in blood.
Blood cultureA test used to detect infections in the blood.
Blood filmA small sample of blood on a microscope slide. Also known as a blood smear.
Blood groupOne of the groups that persons blood can be classified as (A, B, AB, O).
Blood lettingThe process of removing blood for therapeutic reasons.
Blood vesselThe tube or vessel that carries blood through the body. Also known as an artery, vein or capillary.
BruiseAn injury of the soft tissue that results in breakage of the local capillaries and the leakage of red blood cells.
ButterflyA short needle with plastic tabs or wings on both sides which aid in stabilizing the needle during insertion.
CannulaA thin tube used for insertion into a vein or body cavity.
CapillaryA small blood vessel connecting the arteriole with the venule.
CatheterA thin and flexible tube that is inserted into a cavity of the body to withdraw or inject fluid
Central venous catheterA catheter that is inserted into a vein to end up in the chest portion of the vena cava or the right atrium of the heart.
Cephalic veinA large vein in the arm that empties into the axillary vein, also known as the antecubital vein.
Circulatory SystemThe system that moves blood through the body.
CoagulateThe process when blood turns to a solid or semisolid state, creating a clot.
Collateral circulationAn alternate path for blood developed through enlargement of secondary vessels after the main path is blocked.
Complete blood count (CBC)A blood test performed to evaluate your overall health and detect certain diseases.
Contact PrecautionsGuidelines recommended by the CDC for reducing the risk of transmission of epidemiologically important microorganisms by direct skin-to-skin or indirect contact.
ContagiousAbility to be spread from human to human.
ContaminationUnwanted pollution of a substance by another substance.
ContusionA bruise or in the skin where blood capillaries have been ruptured.
CytoplasmThe liquid inside the cell membrane.
Defibrinated bloodBlood that has been deprived of fibrin.
DialysisThe process of removing waste from the blood because the kidney's aren't able to.
DifferentialA blood cell count that assesses the ratio of white blood cells.
EcchymosisThe discoloration of the skin where a contusion occurs.
EdemaThe swelling caused by excess fluid accumulation in tissue.
EmbolusThe mass of clotted blood that obstructs a blood vessel.
EMLA creamEutectic Mixture of Local Anesthetics cream mixture of lidocaine and prilocaine that is often used locally on children for blood draws, etc.
EndotheliumThe layer of cells lining the cavities of the heart and of the blood and lymph vessels.
EpidermisThe outermost layer of the skin.
EpitheliumThe layer of cells covering the free and open surfaces of the body including the skin and mucous membranes.
ErythrocyteA red blood cell.
Factor VIIIA factor in the clotting of blood.
FastingTo not eat. Common before a phlebotomy procedure is performed.
FibrinA protein that is necessary for blood to clot. Created by the action of fibrinogen and thrombin.
FistulaAn abnormal connection from a vein to an artery to change the flow of blood.
GaugeA measurement used for the diameter of a needle. The larger the needle diameter, the smaller the gauge.
GlucoseThe sugar in blood that our body makes from food.
HematocritThe proportion of the total red blood cells to the total blood volume.
HematomaTissue that is filled with blood caused by a break in the wall of a blood vessel.
HemoconcentrationDecrease in the volume of plasma in blood compared to the number of red blood cells.
HemodialysisProcedure to remove waste products from blood and to restore any electrolyte imbalances.
HemoglobinThe oxygen carrying protein of red blood cells.
HemolysisThe freeing of hemoglobin from within the red blood cells into the blood plasma.
HemostasisTo stop bleeding by vasoconstriction and coagulation or by a surgical process.
HeparinA complex organic acid that is found in lung and liver tissue that prevents blood clotting,
HepatitisInflammation of the liver.
Hepatitis AInflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis BAn infectious liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus.
Hepatitis CAn infection caused by the Hepatitis virus that attacks the liver leading to inflammation.
HyperglycemiaAbnormally high in blood sugar.
Hypodermic needleA hollow needle that attaches to a medical syringe to inject or withdrawal fluids from the body.
HypoglycemiaAbnormally low sugar level in the blood.
LymphA clear fluid found in the lymphatic vessels that is collected from body tissue and returned to the blood.
LymphedemaA type of tissue swelling and fluid retention which occurs in lymphatic tissue caused by a compromised lymphatic system.
Medial cubital veinThe forearm vein most commonly used for venipuncture because it is generally the largest and best-anchored vein
MonocyteA white blood cell that has a single nucleus and very fine granulation in the cytoplasm. Makes up 3 to 8% of the white blood cells in humans.
Nosocomial infectionA hospital acquired infection.
Order of DrawThe order in which blood samples should be drawn to minimize interference or contamination in testing caused by carryover of additives in tubes.
Palpate To feel by the hand. For example, to find the size and direction of a vein.
PathogenAn agent or microorganism that casuses disease.
Peripheral bloodBlood that is obtained from the outer surface of the body.
PhlebitisA condition resulting in inflammation of a vein.
PhlebotomistOne who specializes in phlebotomy.
PhlebotomyThe practice of opening a vein for drawing or letting blood as a therapeutic or diagnostic procedure.
PlasmaThe fluid or liquid portion of the blood.
PlateletA disc-shaped element found in blood that aids in clotting.
PlateletpheresisThe process where platelets are removed from blood with the remaining elements being returned to the donor.
PolymorphonuclearA white blood cell with a nucleus that is so divided it looks like it is more than.
Povidone-iodineA solution of polyvinylpyrrolidone and iodine used as a topical antibacterial agent.
Red blood cell (RBC)The blood cells that contain hemoglobin which allows them to carry oxygen.
SclerosisThe hardening of a damaged vein wall.
SerumThe clear fluid that separates from blood when it clots.
SyncopeFainting or a temporary loss of consciousness.
ThrombocyteA platelet. Important for blood clotting.
ThrombocytopeniaA condition that decreases the number of blood platelets.
ThrombosisThe presence or formation of a blood clot (thrombus) within a vessel.
ThrombusA blood clot in the wall of a blood vessel.
TourniquetA band wrapped tightly around the arm to stop the flow of blood to a distal part.
VascularRelating to or composed of blood vessels.
VasoconstrictionNarrowing of the blood vessels that results from contraction of the muscular walls of the vessels.
VeinA tube in the body that carries blood to the heart.
VenesectionIncision of a vein for the purpose of collecting blood.
VenipunctureThe puncture of a vein.
VenousRelating to the veins.
VenuleSmall blood vessels that merge with veins.
White blood cellA colorless or white cell in blood that has a nucleus and cytoplasm.
Whole blood Blood where none of the elements (white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets) have been removed.
White blood cell countThe number of white blood cells found in the blood.

Important: This phlebotomy terminology list highlights some of the most common terms used in the phlebotomy field. It is by no means meant to include every phlebotomy related term ever used. If it is a missing a term that you would like added please feel free to contact us.

Thanks to Medicinenet.com and Medical Dictionary for helping provide the definitions.

Reviewed on July 30, 2015