Different Types of IV Cannula

When it comes to administering intravenous (IV) medications or fluids, having various options for IV cannulas is essential. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of IV cannulas available and their applications in healthcare settings.

1. Peripheral Intravenous Cannula (PIVC)

The PIVC is the most commonly used type of IV cannula. It is typically inserted into a peripheral vein, such as those in the arm or hand. The size of the cannula may vary depending on the patient’s needs, but the usual range is from 20 to 24 gauge. PIVCs are ideal for short-term use and deliver medications that do not cause irritation to the veins.

2. Midline Catheter

A midline catheter is a longer IV cannula that can reach deeper veins. It is inserted through the veins in the upper arm and can advance up to the axilla. Midline catheters are ideal for patients requiring medications or fluids for an extended period, as they can stay in place for several weeks. The 3Fr to 6Fr size range allows for infusion of a wider spectrum of medications and larger fluid volumes.

3. Central Venous Catheter (CVC)

A CVC is a larger IV cannula that is inserted into a central vein, usually in the neck, chest, or groin area. There are three main types of CVCs: tunneled, non-tunneled, and peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs). These catheters are often used for long-term treatments, such as chemotherapy, total parenteral nutrition (TPN), or hemodialysis.

4. Intraosseous (IO) Needle

In situations where peripheral IV access is challenging, an IO needle can be used. This type of cannula is inserted directly into the bone marrow, typically in the larger bones of the leg or arm. IO needles are employed as a rapid and alternative route for delivering fluids and medications in emergencies or when peripheral access is not feasible.

5. Winged Infusion Set (Butterfly Needle)

The winged infusion set, commonly known as a butterfly needle, is a smaller IV cannula often used when access to superficial veins is required. Its flexible tubing and butterfly-shaped wings allow for easier insertion and stabilization. Butterfly needles are frequently used for short-term IV therapy, such as blood transfusions or contrast dye administration for imaging procedures.

6. Scalp Vein Set

Scalp vein sets are specifically designed for pediatric patients and are suitable for infants with difficult-to-access veins. These small-sized IV cannulas are inserted into the veins on the scalp. The needle is then removed, leaving a smaller-sized catheter in place for infusion. Scalp vein sets are predominantly used in neonatal intensive care units and pediatric wards.

7. Percutaneous Intravenous Central Catheter (PICC)

PICCs are long-term IV catheters inserted into the arm. They are an alternative to traditional CVCs and can be easily placed at the bedside. PICCs are commonly used to administer antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and parenteral nutrition. The tip of the catheter rests in the superior vena cava, making it suitable for prolonged therapy.


IV cannulas come in various types and sizes, each with its unique applications and benefits. The selection of the appropriate cannula depends on the medical condition, treatment requirements, and the patient’s age. Understanding the different types of IV cannulas available can help healthcare professionals deliver optimal care while ensuring patient comfort and safety.

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