Types of IV Cannula and Their Uses

An intravenous (IV) cannula is a thin, flexible tube that is inserted into a patient’s vein to provide medical treatment, fluids, or medications directly into the bloodstream. IV cannulas come in various types and sizes, each designed for specific purposes. In this blog post, we will explore some of the relevant types of IV cannulas and their uses. Let’s dive in!

1. Butterfly Needle (Winged Infusion Set)

The butterfly needle is a smaller IV cannula with plastic wings attached to one end. It provides stability during insertion and is commonly used for short-term purposes such as collecting blood samples or administering medication in patients with fragile veins, like children or the elderly.

This type of IV cannula is also preferred for smaller veins, as it causes less discomfort to the patient. The butterfly needle is not suitable for long-term treatment or for infusing large quantities of fluids.

2. Short Peripheral Catheter

The short peripheral catheter is the most common type of IV cannula used in healthcare settings. It is a straight, hollow tube inserted into a peripheral vein, such as those found in the arm or hand. This type of cannula is available in various sizes to accommodate different patient needs and is suitable for short to medium-term treatments.

The short peripheral catheter is used for a wide range of purposes, including fluid administration, medication delivery, blood transfusions, and frequent blood sampling. It is easy to insert, cost-effective, and allows for quick access to the bloodstream.

3. Midline Catheter

A midline catheter is longer and more durable than a short peripheral catheter. It extends further into the vein, usually up to the upper arm region, and remains in place for several weeks or even months. This type of IV cannula is suitable for patients requiring extended treatment, such as prolonged antibiotic therapy or chemotherapy.

The midline catheter provides a more stable option for long-term medication administration. It reduces the need for frequent needle insertions and minimizes the risk of phlebitis or vein inflammation.

4. PICC Line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter)

The PICC line is a long, flexible catheter that is inserted into a peripheral vein and guided to a larger central vein near the heart. It is used for long-term intravenous therapy, frequent blood draws, and chemotherapy administration.

PICC lines are highly preferred for patients requiring treatments lasting several weeks to months because they provide reliable access to the central venous system. However, the insertion process requires specialized training, as improper placement can lead to complications like infections or blood clots.

5. Central Venous Catheter

The central venous catheter (CVC) is a large IV cannula inserted into a major blood vessel, typically in the neck, chest, or groin area. It is used for critical patients who require intensive care and monitoring, such as those in an intensive care unit (ICU).

CVCs allow for precise delivery of medications, fluids, or nutrients, and enable frequent blood sampling. They are also used for hemodialysis, plasmapheresis, or administering highly irritating medications that can damage peripheral veins.


Intravenous cannulation is a common medical procedure with various cannula options available to healthcare providers. Choosing the correct type of IV cannula is essential for efficient treatment, patient comfort, and minimizing complications. Whether it’s a butterfly needle for delicate veins or a central venous catheter for critical care, each cannula has its specific uses and benefits in the medical field.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance related to your specific medical condition.

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