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Different Types of Cannulation Needles – Purpose and Function

Phlebotomy Training Institute
6 Mins Read

In the world of medicine, gaining safe and efficient access to a patient’s bloodstream is important for administering fluids and medications and performing various procedures. This is where cannulation needles come in – thin tubes used to create a pathway into a vein or artery. However, with different types of cannulation needles available, healthcare professionals need to understand their specific purposes and functions.

Let’s get into this topic further.

Delighted adult female lying on couch and talking over mobile phone while getting skin nutrition via venous cannulation

What is Cannulation?

Cannulation is a medical procedure where a thin tube (cannula) is inserted into a vein, artery, or body cavity for various purposes, such as —

  • administering medication,
  • drawing blood,
  • or delivering fluids.

Cannulation is a common practice in hospitals, clinics, and emergency settings.

Experienced cosmetologist holding medical intravenous cannula for anti-ageing procedure

Different Types of Cannulation Needles

At its heart, every cannulation needle serves the same primary function – establishing a passage into a vein. This passage called a cannula, allows for the safe and efficient delivery of fluids or the withdrawal of blood.

However, needles differ in their design and application based on the specific needs of the procedure.

Butterfly Needle

Butterfly needles, also called winged infusion sets, are used for short-term access to veins, especially in patients with fragile or hard-to-reach veins. The butterfly needle has small “wings” on both sides of the needle hub, which help with easy handling and keeping it steady while putting it in.

It’s great for procedures where you need to be careful and cause as little harm to the vein as possible.

Angiocatheter Needle

Angiocatheter needles, also known as angiocaths or catheters, are used for both short-term and long-term access to veins. These needles are thin, hollow tubes with a sharp, slanted tip that pierces the skin and reaches the vein.

Once it’s in, the catheter can stay there for a long time, letting healthcare workers give medicine or fluids many times without having to prick the patient again.

Close-up of phlebotomist in the lab collecting blood from a patient using a collection tube.

Huber Needles

Huber needles are special needles made for accessing ports or implanted vascular access devices (VADs) such as ports or portacaths. These needles have a bent or curved shape and a special tip that doesn’t make a hole in the rubber seal.

This makes them go smoothly into the port without hurting it. These needles are meant to be used many times to give chemotherapy, take blood, or give long-term medicine.

Standard Peripheral Needles

These are the workhorses of cannulation, ideal for short-term access to veins in the arms or hands. They come in various gauges (thicknesses) – the higher the gauge number, the thinner the needle.

Selecting the appropriate gauge depends on factors like vein size and the type of fluids being administered.

Multi-Lumen Needles

Multi-lumen needles are made for procedures where you need to put in different fluids at the same time or take things out while putting things in. These needles feature multiple lumens or channels within a single needle, so you can give different fluids or medicines through separate paths.

They make it easier and faster to do procedures where you need to get into the body in different places at once.

Besides, you can check out our informative blog to learn, “What is Cannulation? Types, Techniques, and Importance.

Vector presentation of phlebotomist holding spinal injection.

Spinal Needles

Spinal needles, also called lumbar puncture needles, are made to reach the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the spine for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. These needles have a thin, sharp point and a long, skinny body meant to go through the tough cover around the spinal cord.

They help doctors do lumbar punctures carefully and correctly.

Scalp Needles

Specifically designed for accessing the scalp veins in infants and neonates, scalp needles are short and have a smaller gauge to minimise discomfort for vulnerable patients.

Safety Needles

Adding a layer of safety to the procedure, safety needles feature a sheath that automatically covers the needle tip after insertion, minimising the risk of needlestick injuries for healthcare workers.

Visit our insightful blog to learn the differences between Venipuncture and Cannulation.

Doctor inserting cannula

Choosing the Right Tool

Choosing a cannulation needle depends on a few things:

  • Purpose: Is it for blood sampling, medication administration, or long-term venous access?
  • Patient’s Body: Considering vein size and location is important.
  • What’s Happening: The type and volume of fluids being administered influence the choice.
  • Patient Feeling: It’s important to make sure the patient doesn’t feel too much discomfort, especially if they’re young or scared of needles.

Check out our insightful blog to learn the different types of Cannulation.

Beyond the Needle – Safety and Expertise

While cannulation needles are the instruments, their safe and effective usage relies on the expertise of healthcare professionals. They need to choose the right vein, make sure everything is clean to avoid infections and pick the right size needle for the job. All of this is really important to make sure the cannulation goes smoothly and without t any problems.

You can visit our informative blog to get a detailed understanding of IV Cannulation.

Wrapping Up

To wrap up, knowing about the different types of cannulation needles and what they’re used for is really important for making sure medical procedures are safe and work well. From butterfly needles to spinal needles, each type serves a specific function, catering to various patient needs and procedural requirements.

Healthcare professionals rely on their expertise to select the right needle, considering factors like patient anatomy and procedure specifics. Understanding the importance of these needles helps healthcare workers take better care of patients and make sure procedures go smoothly.

So, If you wish to excel as an expert healthcare professional who wants to take better care of patients and make sure cannulation procedures go smoothly, consider getting trained at a recognised institute. Learning how to put a tube into someone’s vein is really important for excelling in healthcare.

Getting certified from a program like the CPD-accredited and NHS-accepted one at the Phlebotomy Training Institute ensures you learn both theory and practical skills. This training boosts your abilities and confidence in cannulation. It combines hands-on practice with online learning for a thorough education.

Before starting cannulation training, make sure you first enrol in phlebotomy training.


1) What are the risks of cannulation needles?

While uncommon, risks include infection, bleeding, and bruising.

2) How do I care for a cannulation site?

Keep it clean and dry, follow dressing change instructions, and avoid strenuous activity on that arm.

3) Can I reuse a cannulation needle?

No, cannulation needles are single-use to prevent infection.

4) What is the Gauge vs. Length in cannulation needles?

Gauge refers to the thickness (higher number = thinner needle), while the length varies depending on where the needle needs to reach in the body.

5) Are there any painless cannulation needles?

Pain perception varies, but topical numbing cream can help reduce discomfort.


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