Comparison of blood counts in venous, fingertip and arterial blood and their measurement variation

Clin Lab Haematol. 2001 Jun;23(3):155-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2257.2001.00388.x.


We compared routine blood pictures in venous, fingertip and arterial blood and their measurement variation. A pair of venous and fingertip blood samples were simultaneously collected from 24 volunteers, and another pair of venous and arterial samples from another 12 volunteers. The volunteers were healthy adults, aged 20-22 years, with males and females in equal numbers. Three aliquots of blood were taken from each person for three measurements of blood counts, including haemoglobin concentration and haematocrit, using an automatic haematology analyser. Compared to arterial blood, there was a significant increase of erythrocyte count (2.7%) and haematocrit (3.1%) in the venous blood. The total and large leucocyte counts were significantly higher (9.2% and 12.6%, respectively) in the fingertip blood than in the venous blood. There were a decreasing number of leucocytes in the fingertip blood with repeated sampling. The intermeasurement variation for total leucocyte or haemoglobin measurement was significantly larger as measured with the fingertip blood or arterial blood than with the venous blood. The intermeasurement coefficients of variation of haemoglobin (1.3%) and small leucocyte ratio or platelet (approximately 4.0%) measurements with venous and arterial blood were the smallest and largest, respectively. Volume of arterial plasma was diminished by 2-3% after microcirculation. Elevation of total leucocyte count in the fingertip blood was mainly due to the increase of granulocytes. Measurement with venous blood was of better precision than with fingertip or arterial blood.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arteries
  • Blood Cell Count / instrumentation
  • Blood Cell Count / standards
  • Blood Specimen Collection / instrumentation
  • Blood Specimen Collection / standards*
  • Capillaries
  • Female
  • Fingers / blood supply
  • Hematocrit
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Veins


  • Hemoglobins