Which Cannula Is Used in Pediatrics?

Medically Reviewed on 5/4/2022
Which Cannula Is Used in Pediatrics
Cannulas in pediatrics are used to administer IV therapy and may range in size from 24- to 22-gauge depending on various factors. Learn more about cannulation in children

A 24- to 22-gauge cannula is typically used in pediatrics for intravenous (IV) therapy. In some cases, a 22- to 20- gauge cannula may be used. 

A cannula is a soft, thin, flexible tube that is placed inside a vein, typically in the hand or arm, to administer IV therapy. IV therapy aims to administer fluids, medicine, or blood to a child. Fluids may contain water and glucose, sodium chloride, or electrolytes. Depending on your child’s age, weight, and condition, doctors decide the speed and amount of the IV fluid administered during the IV therapy.

How is IV cannulation done?

The cannulation procedure takes only a few minutes and parents can stay by the child’s side as it is being done:

  • A vein in your child’s arm or leg is located. Children’s veins are more difficult to locate than adults.
  • A wide elastic band is tied above the vein.
  • Next, the area selected for the intravenous (IV) cannula insertion is cleaned with a sterilized solution.
  • Guided by the needle in the cannula, the cannula is inserted into the vein. This may take more than one attempt if the cannula does not go as expected into the vein.
  • The needle is removed, and the cannula is retained in place.
  • To secure the cannula in its place, it is stuck to the skin with tape or plastic wrapped over the cannula.
  • The IV cannula is then connected to a bag of fluid, which is tied to a pole that can be moved around easily.

How can parents help during cannulation?

Most children are nervous about getting a cannula inserted for IV therapy, since most are scared of needles. You can help your child stay calm with the following tips:

  • Keep talking to your child while holding their hand.
  • Encourage them to take deep breaths. If your child goes to school and has learned to count, you can tell them to count from 1 to 10.
  • Distract your child by playing music or a video.

How should you care for your child once the cannula is inserted?

Once the cannula is inserted, you can care for your child while making sure the cannula is not disturbed. 

  • When playing with your child, be careful not to move the cannula too much.
  • When bathing your child, make sure the insertion site stays dry. Ask a nurse to apply a plastic covering over it for protection.
  • When putting your baby back in their crib, make sure the IV tubing does not get caught, pulled, or blocked.
  • If the IV cannula is inserted into your baby's foot, do not let them stand up.

When to call a nurse

Every few hours, check the site where the IV cannula is inserted after. Call the nurse if you notice the following: 

  • Alarm on the pump goes off
  • Blood in the tubing
  • Tubing is pulling apart
  • Tape that holds the tube is loose
  • Site appears red or swollen
  • Site appears wet
  • Site hurts


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Medically Reviewed on 5/4/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Shlamovitz GZ. Pediatric Intravenous Cannulation. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2008690-overview#a4