Bleeding Time is a functional test of blood clotting which includes the blood vessel wall’s contribution, and also indirectly assesses platelet function. It is performed by making a small incision on the skin and measuring, in seconds, the time taken for bleeding to stop.
How the Test is Performed
A blood pressure cuff is inflated on the upper arm to a standardised pressure, then a small cut is made on the forearm (avoiding any veins) and the time until bleeding stops completely is measured.
Medical Conditions and Symptoms
Bleeding time is a test that is infrequently ordered nowadays. It may be requested by your doctor to assess platelet function or exclude von Willebrand Disease. These parameters were previously impossible to test by any other means. Easy bruising, or bleeding – particularly from mucosal surfaces like the gums may be be due to decreased numbers of platelets, decreased function of platelets, or deficiency of von Willebrand Factor – a protein that helps platelets stick to a damaged blood vessel.
Test Results Explained
A prolonged bleeding time may be due to:
- a low platelet count (thrombocytopaenia)
- decreased platelet function – for example due to kidney failure or aspirin therapy
- von Willebrand Disease – a deficiency of von Willebrand Factor
- Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) – bleeding disorder in critically ill patients, for example with severe infections
Bleeding time is normal in Haemophilia.
- Blood Test (venesection)
- Platelet Count
- Coagulation Profile
- Prothrombin Time (PT)
- Full Blood Count
- Blood Group or Crossmatch
- Liver Function Tests
- Faecal Occult Blood (FOB)