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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course The Story of Phlebotomy: A Historical Perspective. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Glass reusable syringe

Autoclave 1914

20th Century to Present – Different Tools Venipuncture

Even into the 1950’s the primary instrument used for venipuncture was the familiar piston and cylinder syringe. the syringes were made of glass and before use on another patient each syringe had to be thoroughly washed, rinsed, and dried by the laboratory staff. Needles were non-disposable and like the syringes had to be meticulously cleaned. The needles were then placed individually into a test tube, sealed with a cotton plug and sterilized in an autoclave. Prior to sterilization each needle was examined for burrs by running a cotton ball over the tip. If there was a burr, which was evidenced by a bit of the cotton clinging to the tip, the needle was sharpened by hand. After obtaining a sample of the patient’s blood, it was placed in a test tube. To indicate the proper draw volume etched lines were made in the glass tubes. If before collection additives such as EDTA or citrate were needed for anticoagulation, the laboratory staff was required to carefully prepare and disperse them into the test tubes. The tubes containing the patient’s blood were sealed with black rubber stoppers for transportation to the laboratory.
The top image is that of a typical glass syringe used for venipunctures. Although occasionally larger sizes were used, the most common sizes used were 2, 5, and 10 ml in order to avoid clots from forming.
The bottom image is that of a typical autoclave used in most laboratories to sterilize needles and syringes.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons