What are the most common intravenous sites?

The upper forearm is an ideal intravenous injection site.

Intravenous therapy is the method by which a catheter is inserted into a vein, with a needle, to deliver fluid directly into the bloodstream. The most common intravenous sites are located on the top of the hand, on the bottom of the forearm, or on the top inside of the forearm near the crook of the elbow. On occasion, the large jugular vein in the neck, or one in the foot, may be considered. A vein in the scalp is most often used as an IV site for babies.

Intravenous therapy refers to a method by which a catheter is inserted into a vein to deliver fluid to a person’s bloodstream.

The veins in the upper part of the forearm and hand are usually ideal intravenous sites. The easier it is for the medical professional to locate the site, the greater the chances that the first needle stick will be successful. The cephalic vein is usually the most accessible. It is located along the side of the wrist closest to the thumb and runs at a slight angle down the arm, towards the body.

Newborns may require intravenous therapy.

Other common locations on the arm include the basilic vein and the median cubital vein. Movement may be a little more difficult for the patient when these sites are used. They are located near the inner bend of the elbow, which can limit the patient’s flexibility, and some people find this uncomfortable.

There are several reasons why a medical professional might decide not to use the hand or arm for intravenous therapy. An example of such a case might be when the patient has swelling or an injury, such as burns or fractures, in the upper extremities. Another reason could be that the sites may have been compromised by multiple needle sticks.

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Most blood transfusions use a large vein in the arm.

When intravenous therapy in the hand or arm is not appropriate, the external jugular vein may be used. It is much larger than other commonly used intravenous sites. Located on the side of the neck, it runs vertically from the top of the jaw line, near the ear, towards the collarbone bone that leads to the shoulder. When a patient has hard-to-reach places on the arm, or when large amounts of fluid need to be injected, the jugular vein can be used.

Occasionally, the jugular vein may be used for an intravenous site.

Although not ideal, there are some cases where it is necessary to use a vein in the foot. This is not done often because it is usually more painful for the patient. Blood does not flow as freely in this area and therefore the method may be less effective. There may also be an increased risk of infection, so medical professionals do not regularly choose placement in this region unless it is necessary.

Some people who need frequent IV access may choose to have a port under their skin.

Newborns sometimes require intravenous therapy. A vein in the baby’s hand, arm or foot can be used, although it is more difficult to insert and hold in place. Some babies can also dislodge it. For this reason, a vein from a newborn’s scalp can often be used as an effective and safe intravenous site.

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