Types of IV Cannulation: Explained in Detail

When it comes to administering intravenous (IV) therapy, healthcare professionals rely on various types of IV cannulation. IV cannulation plays a crucial role in delivering fluids, medications, and other therapies directly into the bloodstream. Understanding the different types of IV cannulation can help medical professionals make informed decisions based on their patients’ unique needs.

1. Peripheral IV Cannulation

Peripheral IV cannulation is the most common and widely used method. It involves inserting a small catheter into a peripheral vein, typically in the arm or hand. This type of cannulation is suitable for short-term treatment and is less invasive compared to other methods. Peripheral IV lines are commonly used for administering fluids, medications, and blood products.

2. Central Venous Catheterization

Central venous catheterization involves inserting a catheter into a large central vein, such as the subclavian or jugular vein. This method is often used for patients who require long-term IV access or frequent administration of irritant medications. Central venous catheters can be tunneled or non-tunneled, depending on the patient’s needs and the duration of therapy.

3. Midline Catheters

Midline catheters are longer catheters compared to peripheral IV lines but not as long as central venous catheters. They are inserted into the upper arm and extend into the proximal basilic or cephalic vein. Midline catheters are suitable for patients who require longer access than a typical peripheral line but don’t necessarily need a central venous catheter.

4. Intraosseous Cannulation

Intraosseous cannulation is an alternative method when veins are difficult to access or in emergency situations. This technique involves inserting a specialized needle into the bone marrow, usually in the tibia or humerus. Intraosseous access provides a route for administering fluids and drugs until a central venous or peripheral IV line can be established.

5. Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC)

A Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) is a long catheter that is threaded into a large vein, typically the basilic or cephalic vein in the upper arm. The catheter is then advanced until the tip is positioned in the superior vena cava near the heart. PICC lines are commonly used for long-term therapy, such as chemotherapy or total parenteral nutrition.

6. Arterial Cannulation

Arterial cannulation involves inserting a cannula into an artery, typically in the radial or femoral artery. Arterial cannulation provides continuous monitoring of blood pressure and allows for arterial blood gas sampling. This method is commonly used in critical care settings or during certain surgical procedures.


Each type of IV cannulation has its own advantages and indications. Choosing the appropriate method depends on various factors such as the patient’s condition, the duration of therapy required, and the intended use of the IV line. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to have a thorough understanding of the different types of IV cannulation to ensure safe and effective treatment for their patients.

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