Guide to Cannulation

Health Play Department
Bergholt Ward, Ipswich Hospital
Tel: 01473 702 186 (Ext:1186)

This is a cannula.


It is a short, fine, flexible tube that is inserted into one of your veins, located generally in either your inner elbow (cubital fossa) or the back of your hand.


It allows doctors and nurses to administer medicines, fluid and blood products straight into your bloodstream.

It can sometimes be used for taking blood samples.

It can be left in place for a number of days, and will require a small ‘flush’ with saline water before and after each time it is accessed. If it’s not used for a while, a nurse will ‘flush’ it routinely to help keep it working.

It might help to use a numbing product when having one fitted. Please talk to your nurse about ‘cold spray’ or local anaesthetic cream.

It uses a very fine needle within the tube to position the cannula, which is immediately removed once in place.

It is secured in place using sticky dressings and medical tape.  It is then wrapped in a bandage to keep it safe and secure.

It allows you to continue using your hand and arm.  Try not to bend that area too much. You may have to use a splint to protect it from bumps and knocks.

For more information:

Speak to your nurse or play specialist.