IV Cannula Butterfly vs Plastic: Which One should you Choose?

The choice between an IV cannula butterfly and a plastic IV cannula can greatly impact patient comfort, ease of use for healthcare professionals, and overall treatment outcomes. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between these two types of IV cannulas and help you make an informed decision.

IV Cannula Butterfly

The IV cannula butterfly, also known as a winged infusion set, is a popular choice for individuals requiring frequent or extended IV therapy. It consists of a short plastic tube with flexible “wings” on the sides that allow for easy handling and secure placement. The butterfly design offers multiple benefits:

  • Stability and Comfort: The wings provide stability during placement, reducing the chance of movement and subsequent discomfort for the patient.
  • Easier Needle Insertion: The butterfly needle design allows for easier needle insertion, making it suitable for patients with delicate veins or those who require precise needle placement.
  • Longer Dwell Time: Due to its secure placement, the butterfly IV cannula can remain in situ for an extended period, reducing the need for frequent reinsertion.
  • Multiple Access Points: Some butterfly cannulas come with multiple access points, allowing for easy collection of blood samples or administration of additional medications.

Plastic IV Cannula

The plastic IV cannula, also known as an indwelling catheter, is a commonly used device for short-term infusion therapy. It typically consists of a plastic hub and a flexible cannula. Here are some key aspects of plastic IV cannulas:

  • Flexible and Versatile: Plastic cannulas are available in various lengths and gauge sizes, allowing healthcare professionals to choose the appropriate option for the patient’s specific needs.
  • Cost-Effective: Plastic cannulas are generally more affordable than butterfly cannulas, making them a cost-effective option for short-term intravenous therapy.
  • Easy Disposal: Since the cannula is detachable from the hub, disposal is hassle-free and reduces the risk of needlestick injuries.

Choosing the Right Option

When it comes to selecting between the IV cannula butterfly and the plastic IV cannula, several factors come into play:

  1. Patient Needs: Consider the patient’s medical condition, vein condition, and the duration of IV therapy required. For patients requiring long-term therapy or having fragile veins, the butterfly cannula may be more suitable.
  2. Healthcare Professional’s Preference: Some healthcare professionals may have greater expertise and comfort using one type of cannula over the other.
  3. Cost and availability: The cost implications and availability of the preferred cannula type should also be taken into consideration.

Ultimately, the decision should be made in consultation with the healthcare team and based on the individual patient’s needs.


In conclusion, both IV cannula butterfly and plastic IV cannulas have their advantages and are suitable for different situations. Understanding the unique features of each option and considering the patient’s needs will help healthcare professionals make the best choice and ensure optimal patient care.

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