IV Cannula Extravasation: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

Medical procedures involving intravenous (IV) therapy are widely used to administer medications, fluids, or nutrients directly into the bloodstream. However, there are instances when the administration of IV fluids may lead to complications such as extravasation.

What is IV Cannula Extravasation?

IV cannula extravasation occurs when the injected fluid or medication leaks from the vein into the surrounding tissue, causing potential damage and complications. This uncommon but significant complication can lead to pain, tissue necrosis, infection, and long-term disability if not properly managed.

Causes of IV Cannula Extravasation

Several factors contribute to the occurrence of IV cannula extravasation, including:

  • Inappropriate cannula size
  • High infusion pressure
  • Poor placement technique
  • Fragile or compromised veins
  • Uncontrolled patient movement
  • Chemical irritants in the infused solution
  • Poor quality or defective cannula

Preventing IV Cannula Extravasation

Prevention is crucial in reducing the risk of IV cannula extravasation. Healthcare providers should follow these guidelines:

  1. Choose an appropriate cannula size
  2. Use low infusion pressure
  3. Ensure proper placement by experienced professionals
  4. Assess vein condition and choose suitable access site
  5. Stabilize the cannula with secure dressings
  6. Monitor patients closely for signs of extravasation
  7. Only use approved and quality cannulas

Treatment for IV Cannula Extravasation

If extravasation occurs, immediate intervention is necessary. The following steps should be taken:

  1. Stop the infusion immediately
  2. Elevate the affected limb (if applicable)
  3. Aspirate extravasated fluid if possible
  4. Administer appropriate antidotes if required
  5. Apply cold or warm compresses based on the infiltrated solution
  6. Consult with specialized healthcare professionals for advanced management


IV cannula extravasation is a serious complication that can result in significant patient harm. By implementing preventive measures and promptly managing extravasation incidents, healthcare providers can mitigate the risks associated with this phenomenon. Proper training, close monitoring, and adherence to best practices are essential to ensure safe and effective IV therapy for patients.

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