The Vacutainer® System consists of a double-pointed needle, a plastic holder or
adapter and a series of vacuum tubes with rubber stoppers of various colors. The colors indicate the type of
additives (or no additives). Blood collection using the evacuated tube collection system produces the best
blood samples for analysis by the laboratory. They also are safe and easy to use because the patient's blood
flows directly into the appropriate test tube.
Vacutainer is a registered trademark of Becton, Dickinson and
Watch this short phlebotomy video clip!
A phlebotomist taking blood using the a needle holder with safety needle. Never mind, however, the repeated
digging for a vein. Ouch... it hurts to watch!
ATTENTION: Please realize that this video
(published from YouTube) is NOT HERE TO TEACH you phlebotomy techniques, but merely to show you different
scenarios of the phlebotomist's daily routine. The video may contain techniques, or procedures that do not
conform to proper, and/or safe venipuncture protocol.
The following Vacutainer Tutorial was written
by Terry Kotrla, MS, MT(ASCP)BB, Austin Community College,
TX Reprint permission for PhlebotomyPages.com granted 06/15/04 by
The Vacutainer needle has a sharp point at both ends, and usually is covered by a rubber sheath, with one end
being shorter than the other. The long end of the needle is used for penetrating the vein, the shorter end is used
to pierce the rubber stopper of the vacuum tube. The sheath makes it possible to draw several tubes of blood by
preventing leakage of blood as tubes are changed, this is called a multi-draw. If the short end is not covered with
a rubber sheath, it is a single sample needle and only one tube of blood can be collected.
There are several sizes of Vacutainer needles available, the size depends on the length and gauge of the needle.
Vacutainer needle lengths range from 1 to 1 ½ inches. One inch needles are used for routine venipuncture, 1 ½ inch
needles are used for patients with very deep veins. The gauge of a needle is a number that indicates the diameter
of its lumen; the lumen, also called the bore, is the circular hollow space inside the needle. A very well known
phrase among phlebotomy students is "The bigger the gauge, the smaller the needle," which means the higher the
gauge number of the needle, the smaller is the needle's lumen. The most frequently used gauges for phlebotomy are
20, 21 and 22.
The bevel is the slanted opening at the end of the needle. the phlebotomist performs a venipuncture so that the
bevel of the needle is facing upward when the needle is inserted into the vein. Vacutainer needles come in single
use, sterile packages, either peel apart envelopes or plastic cases.
The Vacutainer holder is a plastic sleeve into which the phlebotomist screws the double pointed Vacutainer
needle. Holders are available in different colors and in two sizes, one for adults and one for pediatric use. Some
Vacutainer holders are single use with emphasis on safety. Here the needle is covered after use and the whole
apparatus is disposed of. Most holders are used repeatedly and therefore must be disinfected in between uses.
Vacutainer tubes are glass tubes sealed with a partial vacuum inside by rubber stoppers. The air pressure inside
the tube is negative, less than the normal environment. After inserting the longer needle into the vein, the
phlebotomist pushes the tube into the holder so that the shorter needle pierces the stopper. The difference in
pressure between the inside of the tube and the vein causes blood to fill the tube. The tubes are available in
various sizes for adult and pediatric phlebotomies. Adult tubes have volumes of 5, 7, 10 and 15 mL and pediatric
tubes are available in volumes of 2, 3 and 4 mL.