Position of peripheral venous cannulae and the incidence of thrombophlebitis: an observational study

J Adv Nurs. 2009 Jun;65(6):1268-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2009.04980.x. Epub 2009 Apr 3.


Aim: This paper is a report of a study conducted to investigate the most suitable location of peripheral venous cannulae to reduce the incidence of thrombophlebitis.

Background: Peripheral intravenous cannulae are used for vascular access, but the site of insertion and size of the cannula could expose patients to local and systemic infectious complications. Small cannula size is an important factor in reducing the incidence of thrombophlebitis, but cannula location has not yet been studied. Evidence-based knowledge on how to prevent these complications is needed.

Method: An observational survey carried out was carried out in 2007 with 427 patients in one Italian hospital. A structured observation protocol was used to survey the frequency of thrombophlebitis and the relationship of location and size of peripheral intravenous cannulae. The variables evaluated were age, gender, cannula size and site of cannula location. Chi-square or Student t tests were used, and the adjusted odds ratios and relative 95% confidence intervals are reported.

Results: The frequency of peripheral intravenous cannulae thrombophlebitis was higher in females (OR:1.91;CI:1.20-3.03;P < 0.006). The highest incidence was found in patients with cannulae inserted in the dorsal side of the hand veins compared to those with cannulae inserted in cubital fossa veins (OR:3.33;CI:1.37-8.07; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: The use of cubital fossa veins rather than forearm and hand veins should be encouraged to reduce the risk of thrombophlebitis in patients with peripheral intravenous cannulae.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / blood supply
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / adverse effects*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / methods*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / nursing
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects
  • Clinical Nursing Research
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Thrombophlebitis / epidemiology*
  • Thrombophlebitis / etiology
  • Thrombophlebitis / prevention & control