Skip navigation

Complete blood count - series

Procedure

Procedure

A CBC requires a small blood specimen. Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

Preparation: The skin should be cleaned with alcohol or iodine before the test. The patient should be seated comfortably or reclining.

How the test will feel:

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. After the blood is drawn, there may be some throbbing.

Although the CBC test is very safe, any blood drawing has a slight risk of complication, including:

  • Oozing of blood from puncture site
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Multiple punctures to locate veins
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Update Date: 3/19/2012

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

A.D.A.M Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.

A.D.A.M Logo