Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
195 Little Albany Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Please watch the entire video before checking the blood flow in your arm.
This video will teach you how to check the blood flow in your arm.
Good blood flow is important for recovery after the surgical procedure on your arm.
Step 1: Look at your hands and fingers on the arm recovering from surgical procedure.
Compare your arms. Do you see any differences?
Your hands and fingers on the surgical side should feel warm, be normal in color, and have little to no swelling.
These signs mean you have good blood flow in your arm
If your hand looks red or blue, feels cool, or has a lot of swelling, your arm may have poor blood flow.
Step 2: Does your hand feel numb or tingly?
A feeling of numbness and tingling can also be a sign of poor blood flow.
Or you may feel numbness from a type of anesthesia called a nerve block until it wears off.
If you are not sure if you had a nerve block, ask your surgeon.
Step 3: Wiggle your fingers. Wiggling your fingers may improve blood flow to your hand.
Repeat steps one through three every four hours, or as directed by your surgeon.
Another way to check for good blood flow is by doing a capillary refill test.
Capillaries are small blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your fingers.
The capillary refill test allows you to see how well blood is flowing
through these blood vessels to your fingers on the surgical side.
Step 1: Gently pinch the tip of your finger directly over the fingernail with your other hand.
Step 2: Squeeze until your fingernail turns white, then let go.
Your fingernail should turn pink again within two to three seconds.
This sign means that you have good blood flow in your arm and hand.
Repeat steps one and two every four hours, or as directed by your surgeon.
Contact your surgeon if you notice:
your hand looks red or blue, your hand looks very swollen
your hand feels cold, numb or tingly,
unless you had a nerve block during surgery making your arm feel numb until it wears off,
or your fingernail takes more than two to three seconds to return to a pink color when doing the capillary refill test.