Intravenous Cannula Types: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to administering fluids and medications, intravenous cannulas play a crucial role in healthcare settings. These small, flexible tubes are inserted into a patient’s vein, allowing for the delivery of various substances directly into the bloodstream. In this blog post, we will explore different types of intravenous cannulas and their specific uses.

1. Peripheral Intravenous Cannula

The peripheral intravenous cannula is the most commonly used type. It is inserted into peripheral veins, such as those found in the arms and hands. These cannulas are available in various sizes, ranging from 14 to 24 gauge. The gauge determines the diameter of the cannula, with smaller numbers indicating larger diameters. Peripheral cannulas are typically used for short-term treatments, such as administering fluids or medications over a few hours.

2. Central Venous Catheter

A central venous catheter, also known as a central line, is a long, flexible tube inserted into a large vein in the chest, neck, or groin. Unlike peripheral cannulas, central venous catheters can remain in place for an extended period, ranging from weeks to months. These catheters are used for various purposes, including long-term administration of medications, monitoring of central venous pressure, and drawing blood samples.

3. Midline Catheter

A midline catheter is a medium-length catheter inserted into the upper arm vein and advanced until its tip is positioned in the upper chest or axilla. It allows for the infusion of medications and fluids for a duration of days to weeks. Midline catheters offer an alternative to peripheral cannulas when treatment requires a longer duration or when patients have limited peripheral vein access.

4. Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC)

A peripherally inserted central catheter, commonly known as a PICC line, is a long catheter inserted into a peripheral vein, such as the basilic or cephalic vein, and advanced until its tip is positioned in the superior vena cava or near the heart. PICC lines are often used when patients require long-term intravenous therapy, such as chemotherapy, parenteral nutrition, or administration of antibiotics.

5. External Jugular Vein Cannula

An external jugular vein cannula is a specialized cannula inserted into the external jugular vein in the neck. It is primarily used in emergency situations, such as cardiac arrest, when rapid venous access is necessary. External jugular vein cannulas are also suitable for patients requiring the infusion of large volumes of fluids or blood products.

6. Intraosseous Infusion

Intraosseous infusion involves inserting a cannula into the bone marrow cavity, usually in the tibia or humerus, to provide rapid access to the systemic circulation. This technique is typically reserved for emergency situations when peripheral or central venous access cannot be achieved. Intraosseous infusion is commonly used in pediatric patients and during resuscitation efforts.

7. Dialysis Catheter

A dialysis catheter is a large-bore catheter designed specifically for hemodialysis. It is inserted into a central vein, such as the jugular, subclavian, or femoral vein, and provides access for the removal and return of blood during dialysis procedures. Dialysis catheters may have one or two lumens, allowing for the continuous flow of blood.


Intravenous cannulas come in various types, each designed for specific purposes and durations of use. Peripheral intravenous cannulas are commonly used for short-term treatments, while central venous catheters, midline catheters, PICC lines, external jugular vein cannulas, intraosseous infusion, and dialysis catheters cater to different clinical needs. Choosing the right cannula type is essential for efficient and safe administration of fluids and medications.

Remember to consult healthcare professionals for their guidance and expertise in selecting the appropriate intravenous cannula based on the patient’s condition and treatment requirements.

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