Different Types of Needles Used in Blood Collection

The process of venipuncture involves selecting an ideal vein for successfully collecting venous blood samples. Medical professionals must follow the standard protocols and use good needles for specimen collection to ensure accurate diagnostic results.

A common thing for both patients and phlebotomists is how to reduce needle prick pain without causing any sort of discomfort. Many patients also develop anxiety during the blood collection process. The use of smaller needles and decreased insertion force may reduce the occurrence of painful blood withdrawal.

During blood collection, a skilled phlebotomist must take care of which needle to use. In most cases, straight needles are considered safe and efficient, but they may not be used under other circumstances. There are a variety of needles available in the market for blood collection. The butterfly type is more flexible whereas straight needles connect to a vacuum container and a syringe.

Types of needles- butterfly needle, plain needle, and vacutainer needle

A butterfly needle

A butterfly needle is used to collect blood from a vein for medication or blood sampling. Medical practitioners also called it a “winged infusion set” or “scalp vein set” because the wings present on either side of the winged needle get excess in the veins.

This needle is used for sample collection or the intravenous catheter. It has a retractable needle that’s inside the protective sheath. It can be used for venipuncture, IV insertion, or medicinal purposes. The commonly available sizes of the butterfly needle vary from 18- 27 gauge. While sizes of other needles vary from 21-23 gauge. The advantage of butterfly need is that it is extremely helpful for the person with bleeding disorders such as haemophilia or von Willebrand disease.

Straight Needle

The straight needle is attached to the tube holder or syringe before the blood collection process. The phlebotomist inserts the needle into the vein and then places an evacuated tube onto the backside of the straight needle to withdraw the blood specimen. This backward side of the cannula is flexible that seals the needle when not in use.

Once the operator connects the tube, the seal breaks and the vacuum in the evacuated tube automatically withdraws the blood.

The needle is available in 21 and 22-size gauges. The design of the tube is a distinctive feature for the needle especially when multi-samples are required. A flexible rubber fitting prevents blood from draining out of the cannula after removing each tube.

The general advantages of this needle include the needle stick reduction, quality venous sample, and cost savings. A few extenuating factors lend preference to using the butterfly needle, including when working with small and/or fragile veins.

Vacutainer needle

The Vacutainer needle is a safety-engineered, multi-sample blood collection needle. It offers a simple and effective way to collect blood. The safety shield is permanently held in a particular place, thereby reducing needle injuries. The gauge size varies from 20-to 22 gauge. It is quicker and simple to be used with great versatility, producing blood specimens of higher quality at a cost comparable to a syringe system.

There is significantly less hemolysis by the Vacutainer system. This due to the standardization of the vacuum, blood flow, and turbulence within the system instead of the manual suction and subsequent ejection employed with the conventional syringe/needle/container technique. Since blood is drawn through a closed system into sample tubes, the possibility of blood contaminating the external surfaces of the tubes or aerosol spray contaminating the hands is eliminated.

The Vacutainer system has several distinct advantages over the conventional syringe/needle/container method for blood collection. It is quicker and cleaner for the phlebotomist, and considerable time is saved when bleeding large numbers of patients. The wide range of tubes and different anticoagulants combine to give a comprehensive and versatile system.

The blood and serum specimens are of high quality, with a complete absence of hemolysis, and Technicon AutoAnalyzers can sample blood specimens directly without subsampling. The slight risk of blood contamination when certain types of Vacutainer tubes are opened must be balanced 155 against similar risks inherent in the process of opening any type of blood container. The closed Vacutainer system for venipuncture eliminates the potential hazards when sample containers are filled with blood directly from a syringe.


Choosing the correct vein, collection tube, device type, and needle size for each individual helps with proper blood withdrawal. Straight needles offer greater safety against needle sticks due to poor technique, generally have less hemolysis and clotting, and can provide significant cost savings. Butterfly needle sets should be on hand and should be used on purpose when required.

The selection, preparation, administration, and disposal of needles should be taken care of. Needles should be chosen in such a way that they can minimize the patient’s discomfort with slight vein insertion. The quality of the needle should also be maintained.


Ritika Gupta

Ritika Gupta is an MPharm. graduate who is keen on spreading awareness about various unexplored medical fields through her writings.

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