Peripheral Intravenous Cannula: A Comprehensive Guide


The use of peripheral intravenous cannula (PIVC) is a common practice in healthcare settings. It is a small, flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein to provide access for delivering medications, fluids, or blood products.

Benefits of Peripheral Intravenous Cannula:

PIVCs offer several advantages over other routes of medication administration:

  1. Easy and Quick Administration: PIVCs can be easily inserted by healthcare professionals, providing a rapid way to administer medications and fluids.
  2. Flexibility: PIVCs are available in different sizes, allowing healthcare providers to select the appropriate gauge for the patient’s needs.
  3. Patient Comfort: Compared to other invasive procedures, PIVC insertion is relatively less uncomfortable for patients.
  4. Continuous Access: Once inserted, PIVCs allow continuous access to the vein, enabling repeated medication administration without the need for multiple insertions.
  5. Monitoring Capability: PIVCs can be capped with a saline or heparin lock, enabling healthcare professionals to easily draw blood samples or monitor the patient’s condition.

Proper Insertion and Maintenance:

It is crucial to follow proper insertion and maintenance practices to prevent complications and ensure optimal functionality of PIVCs. Here are some key steps:

  1. Hand Hygiene: Healthcare professionals should always practice proper hand hygiene before inserting or accessing PIVCs to minimize the risk of infection.
  2. Site Selection: Careful consideration should be given to the choice of insertion site, considering factors such as the patient’s condition, available veins, and patient comfort.
  3. Catheter Insertion: PIVCs should be inserted by trained professionals using aseptic technique and proper catheter securement to avoid dislodgment or infiltration.
  4. Flush and Lock: After medication administration, PIVCs need to be flushed with saline or heparin solution to maintain patency and prevent clot formation.
  5. Regular Assessment: Healthcare providers should regularly assess the PIVC site for signs of infection, infiltration, or other complications. Early detection allows for prompt intervention.

Complications and Troubleshooting:

Although PIVCs offer numerous benefits, complications can arise. Some common issues include:

  • Infiltration: This occurs when the cannula enters the tissue surrounding the vein, resulting in swelling, pain, and potential medication leakage. Treatment involves discontinuing the PIVC and applying warm compresses.
  • Phlebitis: Inflammation of the vein can occur due to chemical irritation, catheter movement, or infection. Prompt removal of the PIVC is necessary, and anti-inflammatory measures may be employed.
  • Infection: Infection at the insertion site can lead to serious complications. Strict aseptic technique during insertion and proper site care are essential to minimize the risk of infection.
  • Thrombophlebitis: The formation of blood clots inside the vein can impede blood flow and necessitate PIVC removal. Anti-coagulant therapy may be required to resolve the clot.


In summary, peripheral intravenous cannulas provide convenient and effective access for the administration of medications and fluids. Healthcare professionals must adhere to proper insertion, maintenance, and troubleshooting techniques to ensure the safety and well-being of patients. By understanding the benefits, following best practices, and promptly addressing complications, PIVCs can improve patient outcomes and enhance the delivery of healthcare.

Remember, solid knowledge of peripheral intravenous cannulas is essential for healthcare professionals who frequently encounter patients needing intravenous therapy. Your patients will appreciate your expertise, and their safety and well-being will be optimized.

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