Peripheral venous catheter
In medicine, a peripheral venous catheter (PVC), peripheral venous line or peripheral venous access catheter is a catheter (small, flexible tube) placed into a peripheral vein for intravenous therapy such as medication fluids. Upon insertion, the line can be used to draw blood.
The catheter is introduced into the vein by a needle (similar to blood drawing), which is subsequently removed while the small plastic cannula remains in place. The catheter is then fixed by taping it to the patient's skin or using an adhesive dressing.
A peripheral venous catheter is the most commonly used vascular access in medicine. It is given to most emergency department and surgical patients, and before some radiological imaging techniques using radiocontrast, for example. In the United States, in the 1990s, more than 25 million patients had a peripheral venous line each year.
A peripheral venous catheter is usually placed in a vein on the hand or arm. It should be distinguished from a central venous catheter which is inserted in a central vein (usually in the internal jugular vein of the neck or the subclavian vein of the chest), or an arterial catheter which can be placed in a peripheral or central artery. In children, a topical anaesthetic gel (such as lidocaine) may be applied to the insertion site to facilitate placement.
Infection, phlebitis, extravasation, infiltration, air embolism, hemorrhage (bleeding) and formation of a hematoma (bruise) may occur. Because of the risk of insertion-site infection the CDC advises in their guideline that the catheter needs to be replaced every 96 hours. However, the need to replace these catheters routinely is debated. Expert management has been shown to reduce the complications of peripheral lines.
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The insertion of a plastic cannula and withdrawal of the needle was introduced as a technique in 1945. The first disposable version to be marketed was the Angiocath, first sold in 1964. In the 1970s and 1980s, the use of plastic cannulas became routine, and the insertion changed from being the responsibility of the doctor, to being the responsibility of a nurse.
Newer catheters have been equipped with additional safety features to avoid needlestick injuries. Modern catheters consist of synthetic polymers such as teflon (hence the often used term 'Venflon' or 'Cathlon' for these venous catheters). In 1950 they consisted of PVC plastic. In 1983, the first polyurethane version was introduced.
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