How to Place an IV Cannula

Inserting an intravenous (IV) cannula is a common medical procedure that allows healthcare professionals to administer fluids, medications, or collect blood samples directly from a patient’s vein. It is essential to know the correct technique to ensure patient comfort and reduce complications. In this blog post, we will guide you step-by-step on how to properly place an IV cannula.

1. Gather the necessary equipment

Before starting the procedure, make sure you have all the required equipment readily available. This includes:

  • IV cannula of appropriate size
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Tourniquet
  • Gauze pads
  • Tape
  • Gloves

2. Prepare the patient

Ensure the patient is adequately positioned and comfortable. Explain the procedure to the patient and obtain their consent. Wash your hands and put on gloves for infection control.

3. Apply the tourniquet

Identify a suitable vein and apply the tourniquet around the patient’s upper arm to make the vein more prominent. Ask the patient to clench their fist several times to further enhance vein visibility.

4. Clean the insertion site

Using an alcohol swab, clean the selected insertion site in a circular motion, starting from the center and moving outward. Allow the area to air dry.

5. Perform venipuncture

Hold the cannula with your non-dominant hand and use your dominant hand to stabilize the vein. Position the bevel of the cannula facing upward and at a shallow angle (around 10-30 degrees) to the skin. Puncture the skin with a quick, gentle motion and advance the cannula smoothly into the vein while maintaining negative pressure on the syringe.

Look for a flashback of blood in the flashback chamber to confirm successful entry into the vein. Once the flashback is observed, reduce the angle of the cannula, advance it a millimeter further, and then release the tourniquet.

6. Secure the cannula and complete the procedure

Hold the cannula steady while advancing the catheter over the needle into the vein. Remove the needle gently and apply pressure to the insertion site using a sterile gauze pad. Dispose of the used needle and syringe in an appropriate sharps container.

Secure the cannula in place using adhesive tape, taking care not to obstruct the flow of fluids. Label the site with the date, time, and your initials. Ensure the cannula is properly connected to the IV tubing and flush it with an appropriate solution to verify patency.

7. Document the procedure

Record the details of the IV cannulation, including the patient’s response, the size of the cannula, and any complications encountered during the procedure. This documentation is vital for future reference and continuity of care.


Placing an IV cannula is a fundamental skill that healthcare professionals should master. By following the correct technique outlined in this guide, you can ensure a successful and safe insertion for your patients. Remember to prioritize patient comfort, maintain a sterile environment, and practice good infection control measures throughout the procedure. With experience and regular practice, you will become proficient in IV cannulation.

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