IO needles intraosseous labs

There is a growing number of normal volunteers who agree to get an intraosseous (IO) needle placed. Just search Intraosseous Needle on Youtube. Often you can draw blood out of the needle. How do you interpret the lab values? Are they the same as your peripheral blood draw? Should we even send the blood to the lab?

In a 2010 article in Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, peripheral IV blood from 10 volunteers was compared to blood drawn twice from a single IO line in the humerus. After discarding the first 2 mL of IO blood, the first IO sample was drawn (4 mL). Then a second IO sample was drawn (4 mL), which is equivalent to a sample with the first 6 mL discarded.

Interesting, not all IO labs correlated with IV labs. The good news is that a few critical ones do show correlation: creatitine, glucose, and hematocrit.

PV Card: Interpreting Labs from the IO Line

Adapted from [1] Go to ALiEM (PV) Cards for more resources.

Thanks to Dr. Michael McGonigal at Trauma Professional’s Blog for posting about this.


  1. Miller L, Philbeck T, Montez D, Spadaccini C. A new study of intraosseous blood for laboratory analysis. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2010;134(9):1253-1260. [PubMed]
Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Founder and CEO
Professor and Digital Innovation Lab Director
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD


Professor of Emerg Med at UCSF-Zuckerberg SF General. ALiEM Founder @aliemteam #PostitPearls at Bio:
Michelle Lin, MD