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Capillary nail refill test

  • Definition

    The capillary nail refill test is a quick test performed on the nail beds to monitor dehydration and the amount of blood flow to tissue.

    Alternative Names

    Nail blanch test; Capillary refill time

    How the test is performed

    Pressure is applied to the nail bed until it turns white, indicating that the blood has been forced from the tissue. This is called blanching. Once the tissue has blanched, pressure is removed.

    While the patient holds their hand above their heart, the health care provider measures the time it takes for blood to return to the tissue, indicated by a pink color returning to the nail.

    How to prepare for the test

    Remove colored nail polish before this test.

    How the test will feel

    There will be minor pressure to the bed of your nail, which should not cause discomfort.

    Why the test is performed

    Tissues need oxygen to survive. Oxygen is carried to various parts of the body by the blood (vascular) system.

    This test measures how well the vascular system works in your hands and feet -- the parts of your body that are farthest from the heart.