How to Avoid Cannula Site Infection

When undergoing major surgeries as well as in certain minor procedures, a cannula will be inserted into a peripheral vein in order to gain better access to the blood circulation. This will provide the clinicians with a route to administering fluids, drugs, pain relievers…etc more effectively. But, in certain instances, these sites could be the focus point in giving rise to infections that would otherwise prolong the hospital stay as well as the recovery time.

This article hopes to tackle the issue of cannula site infections and recommend ways in which to avoid such episodes from taking place. Accordingly, the article will discuss the matter in 3 different stages namely at insertion, maintenance and removal.

At insertion:

Inserting a cannula is a sterile procedure and following needs to be adhered in order to prevent an infection from seeping in.

At the beginning the cannula site should be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. The person inserting the cannula should wash his or her hands thoroughly with soap and water and wear a sterile pair of gloves at the time of the procedure. The insertion should happen in one go without the tip getting contaminated with even the normal skin flora. The cannula should be firmly fixed and kept closed at times of non use.


Prior to administering drugs or fluids, the health care staff should look for any inflammatory changes around the site such as redness and swelling and the functioning of the cannula. The administration should only take place after such an assessment and this will prevent the drugs or fluids from leaking out and giving rise to a good culture medium for the bacteria to proliferate and give rise to an infection.   

Ideally, the staff should check the cannula site and it should be correlated with the temperature chart. Usually, a cannula in the peripheries should not be continued beyond 5 days and preferably, at 3 days after insertion, it should be removed.

The patient should be warned of putting stress over the cannula and touching the site with dirty hands.

It would be a good idea to cover the cannula site with a clean cloth wrapped around the arm, if that is the cannula site.


Although it sounds easy, removal of the cannula should also be done under sterile conditions. Once removed, pressure should be applied onto the cannula site and this will prevent any leakages from taking place and giving rise to infections in few days time.