Plastic cannulae versus metal needle cannulation in haemodialysis: Results of an international survey from the nurse perspective

J Vasc Access. 2023 Sep;24(5):1025-1031. doi: 10.1177/11297298211066763. Epub 2021 Dec 30.


Background: In haemodialysis is key to successfully obtaining cannulation of the arteriovenous fistula (AVF). The literature agrees that cannulation, failing in the initial maturation period, can lead to delayed dialysis, haematoma, scarring, needle phobia and loss of confidence in the cannulator. The introduction of plastic cannulae for haemodialysis has changed cannulation practice positively, preventing frequent complications such as infiltration or trauma. Despite that, most countries have continued to use metal cannulation, in particular in Europe. This study investigates the common use of plastic cannulae versus metal needles for cannulation in dialysis units and explores the implications of focusing on the side effects of cannulation.

Methods: The study is a cross-sectional survey. A questionnaire was created by a team of experts from the European Dialysis Transplant Nurse Association/European Renal Care Association (EDTNA/ERCA) to address the study's aims and sent online to nurse members.

Results: Data collected suggested a strong resistance towards using plastic cannulae, with few respondents claiming to use these cannulas. Most of the respondents were female (74%), Europeans, working in nephrology for more than 10 years and most worked in the public sector. There was a strong correlation between the use of plastic cannulae and fewer adverse events in elbow located AVF and newly created or fragile AVF.

Conclusions: The results are in line with the current literature. Possible resistance to the use of the plastic device includes the difference in cost between the two devices in favour of metal needles. However, it should be considered that the lower number of adverse events, in particular infiltration and haematoma caused by the metal needle, involves a considerable saving both in money and in terms of time and distress for the patient.

Keywords: Cannulation; haemodialysis; metal needle; nursing; plastic cannulae.

MeSH terms

  • Arteriovenous Shunt, Surgical* / adverse effects
  • Cannula*
  • Catheterization / adverse effects
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hematoma / etiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metals
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Metals