Complications of Peripheral IV Cannulation

Peripheral intravenous (IV) cannulation is a commonly performed medical procedure used to administer fluids, medications, and other treatments directly into a patient’s bloodstream. While it is generally considered safe, there are potential complications that can arise during or after the procedure.

1. Infiltration

Infiltration occurs when the IV fluid or medication leaks into surrounding tissues instead of entering the bloodstream. This can cause swelling, pain, and tissue damage. To prevent infiltration, healthcare providers should ensure proper placement of the cannula and frequently monitor the IV site for any signs of infiltration.

2. Phlebitis

Phlebitis is the inflammation of the vein, often caused by the irritation of the IV catheter. Symptoms include pain, redness, and warmth around the insertion site. Healthcare providers should practice aseptic technique during IV insertion and regularly assess the IV site for signs of phlebitis.

3. Occlusion

Occlusion refers to the blockage of the IV line, preventing the flow of fluids or medications. This can occur due to blood clots, medication precipitates, or kinks in the tubing. Regular flushing of the IV line and maintaining proper patient positioning can help prevent occlusions.

4. Extravasation

Extravasation happens when vesicant medications, which can cause severe tissue damage, leak into surrounding tissues. This complication requires prompt identification and discontinuation of the infusion. Healthcare providers should closely monitor IV sites for any signs of extravasation, especially when administering vesicant medications.

5. Hematoma

A hematoma is a localized collection of blood under the skin caused by a blood vessel puncture during cannulation. It presents as a swelling or bruise around the IV site. Proper technique during insertion, holding pressure after removal, and adequate patient immobilization can help minimize the risk of hematoma formation.

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