Pearls on Intensive Care Medicine Practice - Project "Critical Care A Day"
Monday, December 22, 2014
Capillary refill - a basic exam often ignored
Capillary refill is defined as the time taken
for color to return to an external capillary bed after pressure is applied to
cause blanching. Ideally it should be measured by holding a hand higher than heart-level, pressing the
soft pad of a finger until it turns white. Its the time needed for the color to
return once pressure is released. Normal capillary refill time is usually less
than 2 seconds but in clinically sick patients up to 5 seconds is acceptable.
A prolonged capillary refill time is
a sign of shock. Capillary refill should be read with other clinical