What is a Butterfly Needle for Phlebotomy?

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What is a Butterfly Needle for Phlebotomy?

Receiving injections is one of the most basic yet vital medical procedures in many aspects of healthcare, whether for extracting a blood sample or administering an IV fluid or medication infusion. However, few of us know about the differences in the types of needles used, needle size, and other details about them. One of the items you might want to learn more about is a butterfly needle and its use for your phlebotomy procedure.

So what is a butterfly needle for phlebotomy? A butterfly needle is a device with a smaller needle and two plastic flaps on either side, giving the appearance of wings. It’s used in venipuncture for blood collection or infusion of IV fluids or medications into small veins that are difficult to locate and reach, even superficial needles. This is because of its needle size, allowing access to these veins, and design for better grip and control.

What is Phlebotomy?

Phlebotomy, also called blood draw or blood collection, is a medical process involving collecting a blood sample from a vein with a needle. This procedure has been vital in assessing a patient and diagnosing their condition. 

The blood collected is tested in a laboratory to see the vital units in your body necessary for diagnosis. Practitioners can also perform a blood draw to treat several medical conditions — a process called therapeutic phlebotomy. This involves removing excess red blood cells, those with unusual shapes, and extra iron in your system. 

Venipuncture is the process of puncturing the veins, either for a blood draw or as part of a multi-step procedure. This is unlike phlebotomy, which only involves blood collection for testing. Venipuncture is also involved in inserting a needle for IV infusions in a given period, while phlebotomy is only concerned with one-time needle insertion.

All About Butterfly Needles

Butterfly needles are used in collecting blood and conducting other procedures, like administering IV fluids and medications. You’ll have a deeper understanding of butterfly needles by learning more about their description and what they are for.

What You Should Know About Butterfly Needles

A butterfly needle is a device with a small needle and plastic flaps on either side, giving it a winged appearance. It’s also called a winged infusion set or a scalp vein set. It comes in sizes 18 to 27, with the higher number being smaller or thinner, but most come in gauges 23 to 25. The standard butterfly needle only has a length of a ¾ of an inch.

A butterfly needle is different from other needles mainly because of its design and needle size. Its small needle is suitable for puncturing small veins that are difficult to locate and access — it can even be used for superficial veins. Infants and elderly patients, especially those in the palliative care unit mostly get venipuncture procedures with winged infusion sets. Medical professionals may opt for this device for both intravenous and subcutaneous routes.

The two plastic flaps on the sides of the needle are also useful for accessing small and superficial veins. Nurses or any other medical professionals pinch these winged flaps to have better control of the needle, allowing better navigation and puncture on small veins.

What Butterfly Needles Are For

Butterfly needles are useful for performing venipunctures on infants and elderly patients for different purposes. Medical professionals use these winged infusion sets to collect blood samples, conduct IV infusions, or administer medications when patients can’t have them by mouth.

1) Blood Draw

As mentioned, butterfly needles are used for conducting blood collection for further testing and diagnosis. Nurses, phlebotomists, and other medical professionals use this type of needle on patients like:

  • Elderly
  • Children
  • Infants
  • People considered “difficult sticks” or those with veins that are difficult to search and puncture

Medical professionals use shallower angles for butterfly needles, unlike IV catheters. The needle size makes the device easier for them to insert into the veins. Winged infusion sets come with flexible tubing at the other end, making it easier to connect to another specimen tubing during blood collection.

2) IV Therapy

Butterfly needles are also used for an IV infusion for dehydration treatment. This is needed for patients unable to drink or eat due to fasting or having an illness. The needle size of this device allows the IV fluids to enter your system, provide hydration, and stabilize fluid levels.

3) Medications

Medical professionals also use winged infusion sets to administer medications via the intravenous route with the help of a syringe. Intravenous administration is needed when patients can’t take their medicine by mouth or need them to work quickly.

But since butterfly needles can only stay in the body for an IV infusion for a maximum of 5 hours, this device isn’t a reliable long-term option for administering fluids or medication. Due to the needle size, winged infusion sets can be displaced easily from the vein. Medical professionals often access bigger veins through a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) or central line.

Advantages of Using Butterfly Needles

Using butterfly needles has several advantages — it’s easier to use due to better grip and control, and it can access small veins. A study has also discovered that using winged infusion sets for blood collection reduces blood breakdown rates by half compared to using IV catheters. Patients with bleeding disorders can also benefit from using this device for blood tests.

Disadvantages of Using Butterfly Needles

While winged infusion sets have benefits, it also has some disadvantages, making medical professionals use them only when needed. It has risks of causing vein damage when removed accidentally and is prone to needle sticks.

Browse Our Catalog at FACE Med Store for Butterfly Needles and Other Beauty and Medical Supplies

Butterfly needles also called winged infusion sets or scalp vein sets, are venipuncture devices with small needle sizes for better access into small veins difficult to locate and access and two winged flaps for better grip and control. These are used for blood collection and infusion of fluids and medications via the intravenous and subcutaneous routes. Butterfly needles also come with some risks, so you might want to choose a brand with the best quality.

FACE Med Store is one of the partners trusted by many medical and aesthetic practices across different states in the U.S. due to its high-quality supplies at competitive prices. We also have a wide range of medical and beauty supplies for promoting optimal service in your clinic. Get only the best items for your practice today. Browse our catalog to learn more about our products.

All content in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not medical or legal advice. Please consult with lawyer or a medical professional.