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Venous blood

Venous blood collected during blood donation.

Venous blood is deoxygenated blood which travels from the peripheral vessels, through the venous system into the right atrium of the heart. Deoxygenated blood is then pumped by the right ventricle to the lungs via the pulmonary artery which is divided in two branches, left and right to the left and right lungs respectively. Blood is oxygenated in the lungs and returns to the left atrium through the pulmonary veins.

Venous blood is typically colder than arterial blood,[1] and has a lower oxygen content and pH. It also has lower concentrations of glucose and other nutrients, and has higher concentrations of urea and other waste products. The difference in the oxygen content of arterial blood and venous blood is known as the arteriovenous oxygen difference.[2]

Most medical laboratory test are conducted on venous blood, with the exception of arterial blood gas tests. Venous blood is obtained for lab work by venipuncture (also called phlebotomy), or by finger prick for small quantities.


Human blood is red, ranging from bright red when oxygenated to dark red when not. It owes its color to hemoglobin, to which oxygen binds. Deoxygenated blood is darker due to the difference in color between deoxyhemoglobin and oxyhemoglobin.

The blue appearance of surface veins is caused mostly by the scattering of blue light away from the outside of venous tissue if the vein is at 0.5 mm deep or more. Veins and arteries appear similar when skin is removed and are seen directly.[3][4]


Venous blood is mainly used for blood transfusion. Commonly only components of the blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, plasma, clotting factors, and platelets are used. It is one of the three sources of stem cells, which are extracted through apheresis.[5]


  1. Bostock, J. An elementary system of physiology 1. p. 263. Retrieved 2013-03-16. 
  2. "Arteriovenous oxygen difference". Sports Medicine, Sports Science and Kinesiology. Net Industries and its Licensors. 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011. 
  3. Misconceptions in Primary Science. McGraw-Hill International. 1 February 2010. pp. 33–34. ISBN 978-0-335-23588-9. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  4. "Why Are Veins Blue?". Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  5. Carson, JL; Grossman, BJ, Kleinman, S, Tinmouth, AT, Marques, MB, Fung, MK, Holcomb, JB, Illoh, O, Kaplan, LJ, Katz, LM, Rao, SV, Roback, JD, Shander, A, Tobian, AA, Weinstein, R, Swinton McLaughlin, LG, Djulbegovic, B, for the Clinical Transfusion Medicine Committee of the AABB (Mar 26, 2012). "Red Blood Cell Transfusion: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the AABB.". Annals of internal medicine. PMID 22454395. doi:10.1059/0003-4819-156-12-201206190-00429.