Different Types of IV Cannula

When it comes to intravenous (IV) therapy, using the right type of IV cannula is crucial for patient safety and ensuring the effectiveness of the treatment. IV cannulas are thin, flexible tubes inserted into a patient’s vein to administer fluids, medications, or blood products. Each type of IV cannula is designed with specific features to cater to different patient needs and medical conditions. In this article, we will explore the various types of IV cannula and their applications.

1. Standard Peripheral IV Cannula

The standard peripheral IV cannula is the most commonly used type. It features a plastic hub attached to a stainless steel needle. This type of cannula is available in different sizes, typically ranging from 14 to 24 gauge. The smaller the gauge number, the larger the cannula diameter.

Standard peripheral IV cannulas are suitable for most patients and general IV therapy. They are easy to insert and can deliver fluids and medications at a moderate flow rate. However, they may not be suitable for patients with fragile veins or those requiring rapid fluid administration.

2. Winged Infusion Sets (Butterfly Needles)

Winged infusion sets, commonly known as butterfly needles, have plastic wings on both sides of the cannula. These wings provide stability during insertion and can be taped down to secure the cannula in place. Butterfly needles are typically smaller in gauge, ranging from 18 to 27.

These cannulas are often used in patients with delicate or small veins, such as pediatric or geriatric patients. They allow for precise control during administration, making them suitable for intermittent infusions or when frequent medication changes are required.

3. Midline Catheters

A midline catheter is a longer IV cannula that extends past the typical insertion site. It can be inserted into the antecubital fossa, upper arm, or cephalic vein. Midline catheters are usually 3 to 8 inches long and offer a larger diameter compared to standard peripheral IV cannulas.

These cannulas are designed for patients requiring IV therapy for an extended period, usually up to 1 month. Midline catheters allow for the administration of more irritant medications and save patients from frequent needle insertions. However, they require specialized training for insertion and maintenance.

4. Central Venous Catheters

Central venous catheters (CVC) are longer, larger, and are placed into larger veins, such as the jugular, subclavian, or femoral vein. CVCs are typically used for patients requiring long-term IV therapy, frequent transfusions, or certain medical procedures.

Due to their placement in larger veins closer to the heart, CVCs allow for the delivery of fluids or medications at a higher flow rate. They are also more suitable for caustic medications that may cause vein irritation if administered through a peripheral cannula.

5. Safety IV Cannulas

Safety IV cannulas have additional safety features to reduce the risk of needlestick injuries. These cannulas often have retractable needles or safety shields that automatically cover the needle after insertion.

These cannulas are beneficial in healthcare settings where healthcare workers are at higher risk of accidental needlestick injuries, such as emergency departments or intensive care units.


Intravenous therapy plays a vital role in modern healthcare. Choosing the appropriate IV cannula type is essential to ensure patient comfort, efficient treatment, and minimize complications. By understanding the different types of IV cannula available, healthcare professionals can make informed decisions based on patient needs and medical requirements.

Leave a Comment