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A guide to cannulation in adults

26 October 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 19


This article provides clinical guidance on performing cannulation on an adult. The site, equipment selection and aseptic non-touch technique will be discussed. The clinical procedural technique of cannulation will be explained and the article will also provide an awareness of the dangers and complications of this invasive technique for both the patient and the health professional.

Intravenous cannulation is a widely practised invasive procedure globally, involving the insertion of a slender, flexible tube containing a retractable needle into a peripheral vein (Boyd, 2022). This technique serves as a gateway for various medical interventions, including the delivery of fluids, medications, dyes, contrast agents and blood products, as well as the collection of blood for diagnostic purposes (Helm et al, 2015). Nonetheless, conducting cannulation involves inherent risks. Hence, it becomes crucial for health professionals to ensure safe practice by recognising their own limitations, comprehending the theoretical foundations of the insertion procedure, and maintaining awareness of the associated risks in this clinical skill (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2018; 2023).

When performing cannulation on individuals with compromised immune systems, it is of utmost importance to take additional precautions to reduce the risk of infection and safeguard their health. Immunocompromised individuals possess weakened immune defences, making them more susceptible to infections. As a result, there may be a need for extra precautions, which could involve maintaining rigorous aseptic non-contact methods and creating a sterile environment (UK Oncology Nursing Society (UKONS), 2023).

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