Intravenous Cannula and their use

The cannula is inserted in a very clean way and remains in place for the duration of therapy. Hospital policy requires cannula to be promptly removed when they are no longer required for treatment or have not been used for 24 hours. If your cannula has not been used in the last 24 hours it may be ready to come out. Please ask one of the nurses if this happens.


It does not hurt when the cannula is removed. After removal the place where the cannula has been can feel slightly bruised. This can last up to a week and is normal. If you have any concerns regarding the cannula site after removal please let the nurse know.


Please advise your nurse if this has not happened. At home please check the area for 48-96 hours.

If you have any concerns please notify Bidwill Hospital for advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your cannula or the information in this leaflet please speak to a member of staff.


What is an IV Cannula?

A cannula is a small flexible plastic tube that is inserted through the skin into one of your veins. A small piece of tubing called an extension set is attached to reduce movement and handling of the cannula. Longer lines-or syringes are connected to the extension set to give fluid and· medication.

Why is a cannula used?

  • It allows your nurses and doctors to give you medications, fluids and blood products directly to your blood stream.
  • Some treatments are only designed for or are more effective when they are given directly into the blood.
  • Your medication condition may prevent you from taking tablets.

How is the cannula used?

All staff perform hand hygiene before accessing any hub or line. Prior to access, the hub is vigorously scrubbed for 75 seconds with a disinfectant wipe and allowed to dry for 30 seconds. Drying is an important part of the disinfection process to prevent infection.


What are the risks and complications?

The cannula and site should be inspected at least once every 8 hours and more frequently if fluids are infusing.

  • Sometimes the area around the cannula can become painful, red or swollen. If this happens, let your nurse know immediately.
  • Infection: Any object, including a cannula, that punctures the skin has a risk of letting infection into the body. Clean and careful handling of the cannula as well as a secure dressing will reduce the risk.
  • Bruising: Difficult or unsuccessful insertions can result in bruising which will settle.
  • Tissuing: This is when the fluid or medication leaks out of the vein and into the area surrounding the vein. This could hurt, and swelling will occur. Please let your nurse know immediately. The cannula must be removed and replaced if necessary. Symptoms will settle over a couple of days - if not, speak to your nurse.


How do I look after the cannula?

  • Report any redness, pain or swelling to your nurse immediately.
  • Try and keep your cannula and dressing clean and dry. See you nurse before showering.
  • If your cannula dressing is lifting or becoming loose, please notify your nurse to have the dressing replaced.
  • Try not touch your cannula or hub.
  • Do not pull the cannula or any infusion that may be attached to it.
  • Take care when you are changing clothing. Ask your nurse for help.
  • Never disconnect the infusion line yourself as this can put you at risk of infection and blood loss.


How long does the cannula last?

This depends on several things such as the site and size of the vein into which the cannula has been placed or what type of fluid or medication is being given (some are more irritating than others). Cannula are only replaced when clinically indicated e.g. dislodged, painful, leaking or occluded. Your nurse will discuss this with you.


 Download our Intravenous Cannula brochure here