This often simple procedure has had probably the biggest impact in my practice and has greatly affected my patient care for the better. I’ve found myself becoming more and more passionate about this the more I use it, and I want to tell y’all a few of the reasons I do it, and some tips on how to be more successful with them. I’m planning on doing a whole series on ultrasound-guided IV’s, and wanted to start with the topic of IV catheter length.
With regards to the gauge, most studies out there and people I know use catheters between the 18-20 gauge range. What I want to focus on today is not the gauge, but rather the length of the catheters.
After you successfully cannulate the vein, the most important factors determining if it stays in (I.E., doesn’t extravasate/infiltrate/dislodge) are the length of the catheter and the distance of the vein from the surface.
Here’s the bottom line:
If the vein is <1 cm from the skin, standard IV length will probably be fine
If the vein is > 1 cm from the skin, you need a longer IV catheter.
Check out the video below for more specifics