Common Side Effects of IV Cannula: Prevention and Management

IV cannulas are essential medical devices used for intravenous therapy in various healthcare settings. Although highly beneficial, they can occasionally have side effects. In this blog post, we will explore the common side effects of IV cannulas, their prevention, and management.

1. Infection at the insertion site

One of the most common side effects of an IV cannula is infection at the insertion site. This can occur due to improper aseptic techniques during insertion, contaminated equipment, or poor catheter maintenance. Signs of infection may include redness, swelling, warmth, pain, and pus at the site.

2. Phlebitis

Phlebitis, inflammation of the vein, is another potential side effect. It can be caused by mechanical irritation from the cannula, chemical irritants in the medications administered, or bacterial contamination. Symptoms include pain, redness, and tenderness along the vein.

3. Thrombosis

Thrombosis, the formation of blood clots, can occur when IV cannulas cause damage to the blood vessel walls. This may happen due to excessive movement of the cannula or prolonged use. Symptoms may include swelling, pain, and a hardened feel around the insertion site.

4. Infiltration

Infiltration refers to the leakage of intravenous fluid into the surrounding tissues. This side effect can happen when the cannula becomes dislodged or there is a sudden increase in the infusion pressure. Signs include swelling, coolness, and pallor at the insertion site.

5. Extravasation

Extravasation occurs when vesicant medications leak into the surrounding tissues, causing potential tissue damage. It can lead to severe complications if not managed promptly. Symptoms include pain, burning sensation, blistering, and tissue necrosis.

Preventing and Managing Side Effects

Preventing and managing side effects is crucial in ensuring patient safety and optimal care. Here are some recommendations:

1. Proper insertion technique

Proper sterile technique during IV cannula insertion helps minimize the risk of infection and phlebitis. Healthcare professionals should undergo regular training to maintain procedural competency.

2. Catheter site care

Routine inspection and cleaning of the cannula site are essential to prevent infection. It’s crucial to follow aseptic guidelines, secure the cannula correctly, and change dressings when required.

3. Regular assessment and monitoring

Close monitoring of the cannula site, infusion rate, and patient’s symptoms is crucial to identify potential issues early. Regular assessment helps detect infiltration, extravasation, or signs of thrombosis.

4. Prompt response to complications

If any side effect occurs, immediate action should be taken. This may involve removing the cannula, appropriate wound care, medication adjustments, or consulting a specialist for further management.


IV cannulas are valuable tools in healthcare, but they can have side effects that require attention. By following proper insertion techniques, ensuring strict aseptic guidelines, and promptly managing complications, healthcare professionals can minimize the risks associated with IV cannula usage and provide safe and effective treatment to patients.

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