Inserting an IV Cannula: A Step-by-Step Guide

Inserting an intravenous (IV) cannula is a common procedure performed in healthcare settings to provide patients with fluids, medications, or blood products. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of safely and effectively inserting an IV cannula.


Before starting the procedure, gather all the necessary supplies, including:

  • IV cannula
  • Gloves
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Tourniquet
  • Cotton balls
  • Tape
  • Gauze
  • Saline flush

Once you have gathered the supplies, wash your hands thoroughly and put on gloves.


Step 1: Verify Patient Identification

Before any invasive procedure, it is crucial to verify the patient’s identity. Ask the patient their full name and date of birth while checking their identification band.

Step 2: Explain the Procedure to the Patient

Communicate with the patient and inform them about the procedure, its purpose, and what they might experience during insertion.

Step 3: Select the Appropriate Vein

Assess the patient’s veins to determine the best site for cannula insertion. Look for prominent and easily accessible veins, preferably in the lower forearm or hand.

Step 4: Apply the Tourniquet

Place the tourniquet around the patient’s arm, a few inches above the intended insertion site. Ensure it is tight enough to restrict venous blood flow but not too tight to cause discomfort or impede arterial circulation.

Step 5: Cleanse the Skin

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

Step 6: Prepare the IV Cannula

Open the sterile packaging of the IV cannula. Hold it with the bevel up and attach the extension set or syringe to the hub, ensuring the connection is secure.

Step 7: Stabilize the Vein

With your non-dominant hand, gently anchor the vein by applying light pressure just below the intended insertion site. This helps stabilize the vein and prevents it from rolling during the procedure.

Step 8: Insert the Cannula

Holding the cannula like a pen, maintain a shallow angle of approximately 10-30 degrees with the bevel facing upward. Insert the cannula smoothly into the vein, watching for a flash of blood in the flashback chamber.

Step 9: Advance the Cannula

Once the flash of blood is observed, advance the cannula slightly further into the vein while keeping the needle steady. This ensures the cannula is positioned properly.

Step 10: Remove the Needle

Using your dominant hand, hold the catheter hub firmly while gently withdrawing the needle. Be careful not to dislodge the cannula during this step.

Step 11: Secure and Flush

Secure the cannula in place using tape and apply a sterile dressing. Connect the extension set or syringe to the hub and flush the cannula with a saline solution to ensure proper patency.

Step 12: Document the Procedure

Make sure to record the details of the procedure in the patient’s medical chart, including the inserted cannula size, the insertion site, any complications, and the patient’s response.

Monitoring and Complications

Once the IV cannula is successfully inserted, regularly monitor the insertion site for signs of complications such as infiltration, phlebitis, or infection. It is crucial to ensure the cannula remains functional and secure throughout the patient’s treatment.


Inserting an IV cannula is an essential skill for healthcare professionals. By following this step-by-step guide, you can perform the procedure with confidence, ensuring the patient’s comfort and safety. Always adhere to aseptic techniques and maintain proper documentation to provide the highest standard of care.

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