Business Skills

Step-by-Step Process of Hand Cannulation

Phlebotomy Training Institute
7 Mins Read

Hand cannulation is an important technique used in various medical procedures, particularly in fields like dialysis and cardiac surgery. While it may seem daunting at first, with practice and the right guidance, mastering this type of cannulation is achievable.

Here’s the brief for you: Hand cannulation involves —

  • preparing the equipment and patient,
  • cleaning the site,
  • numbing if needed,
  • gently inserting the cannula into the vein or artery,
  • securing it,
  • checking blood flow,
  • and providing post-procedure care, like dressing the site.

In this write-up, we’ll talk about each step of hand cannulation in detail.

Close-up of doctor wearing latex gloves giving IV injection to female patient in hospital bed

What is Hand Cannulation?

Hand cannulation is the process of inserting a thin plastic tube called a cannula into a vein in the back of the hand (or sometimes the arm) for the purpose of delivering fluids, medications, or drawing blood samples.

It’s a common procedure used in hospitals and other medical settings to provide quick and easy access to a patient’s bloodstream.

You can visit our informative blog to learn about the different types of cannulation.

Doctor inserting cannula on a patient’s hand.

Step-by-step Process of Hand Cannulation

Let’s break down the steps of hand cannulation in the following:

Step 1: Getting Ready

Before starting the cannulation, it’s important to gather all the medical tools a healthcare professional needs. This includes tubes, needles, syringes, cleaning liquid, gloves, and clean sheets. Make sure the patient is comfortable and ready for the procedure.

Step 2: Clean Hands

Washing your hands well is super important to avoid infections. Use soap and water or a special cleaning gel. Wear clean gloves to keep everything sterile during the procedure.

Let’s check out WHO’s recommended hand hygiene guidelines.

Step 3: Selecting the Cannulation Site

Identify the appropriate site for cannulation, usually a vein that is visible and easily accessible. A stretchy band is tied around the upper arm to make the vein plump and easier to see.

Common sites for hand cannulation include the radial artery for arterial access and the cephalic or basilic veins for venous access.

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

Close-up of doctor’s hand using sanitiser gel.

Step 4: Cleaning Up

Use an antiseptic solution to clean the skin where the tube will go. Start from the middle and clean in circles, going outward. Let the skin dry completely before moving on.

Step 5: Anesthesia (if necessary)

Depending on the patient’s comfort level and the specific procedure, local anaesthesia may be administered to numb the cannulation site. This step helps minimise pain and discomfort during the insertion of the cannula.

Step 6: Insertion of the Cannula

Hold the cannula at a slight angle and insert it into the chosen vein or artery with a smooth, controlled motion. A flash of blood confirms the successful entry.

Pay close attention to the resistance encountered during insertion, as excessive force can cause damage to the vessel. The needle is then removed, leaving the plastic tube in place.

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

Step 7: Securing the Cannula

Once the cannula is successfully inserted, secure it in place using adhesive tape or a securing device. Make sure that the cannula is stable and does not move excessively to prevent dislodgment or complications.

Close-up of hand of male patient with IV drip lying in bed in hospital room.

Step 8: Checking the Blood Flow

After securing the cannula, verify blood flow by observing for pulsatile flow (in arterial cannulation) or steady flow (in venous cannulation). Use a syringe to aspirate blood or saline to confirm the proper placement and function of the cannula.

Step 9: Aftercare

When done, healthcare professionals should dispose of any used equipment properly and remove gloves following standard protocols. Put a clean bandage over the spot where the tube went in. Keep an eye on it to make sure it heals well and doesn’t get infected.

Check out our informative blog to learn about the different types of cannulation needles.

Experienced cosmetologist holding medical intravenous cannula for anti-ageing procedure

What are the Common Cannulation Mistakes?

Here are some common mistakes that new injectors might make when learning to use a cannula:

  • Using a Needle, That’s Too Small: If the needle used to start the hole is smaller than the cannula, it won’t work because cannulas have a blunt tip. Make sure the needle makes a hole bigger than the cannula.
  • Using a Cannula, That’s Too Long: If the cannula is too long, for example, 38mm vs 50mm lengths, it’s hard to control where it goes. Longer ones are okay to use, but it’s harder to control them precisely.
  • Using a Cannula, That’s Too Small: If the cannula is too small, it’s like using a needle. For safety, it should be at least 25G or wider.
  • Starting with Difficult Areas: When starting out, it’s better to use cannulas in easier areas like the nasolabial folds to build confidence.
  • Getting Scared When It’s Hard to Push: It’s okay to feel scared when you feel something hard. That’s normal until you know how much to push. Feeling resistance is just a way for your body to tell you what’s happening. If you gently twist the cannula and push a little more, it can go through the tough parts like fat septae and the SMAS. But you don’t need to push too hard.
  • Not Keeping Everything Clean: It’s easy to cause an infection if you get germs on the cannula tip. Clean the skin well before starting, and try not to touch the cannula tip on the skin too much.
  • Worrying About Bleeding: If the spot where you put the cannula bleeds a bit, don’t worry. Just apply pressure for 5 mins and re-site the port. Let the patient know they might get a bruise there.

Wrapping Up

In the end, getting really good at Hand Cannulation is super important for healthcare professionals in various medical fields. If you follow these steps and practice carefully, you can make sure patients stay safe and get the help they need. Remember, attention to detail and ongoing learning are key to mastering the art of cannulation and contributing to positive patient outcomes.

If learning about cannulation seems overwhelming right now, don’t worry. You can think about getting trained at a recognised institute that teaches everything you need to know. Knowing how to put a tube in someone’s vein is really important in healthcare.

Getting certified from a respected institute, like the CPD-accredited and NHS-accepted one at the Phlebotomy Training Institute, helps you learn both theory and practice. This training makes you better at cannulation and more confident. It combines hands-on practice with online learning for a complete education.

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


1) What are the different types of cannulas used for hand cannulation?

There are various cannula sizes and types, chosen based on factors like patient needs and vein size.

2) How long can a hand cannula stay in place?

Typically, cannulas remain inserted for 2-3 days, but this can vary depending on the situation.

3) What are the signs of infection after hand cannulation?

Redness, swelling, or pus around the insertion site could indicate infection.

4) Can a patient eat and drink normally with a hand cannula?

Yes, dietary restrictions are usually minimal with a hand cannula. However, patients should always follow their doctor’s specific instructions.

5) What can be done to minimise discomfort during hand cannulation?

Relaxing the arm and letting the healthcare provider know of any anxieties beforehand can help.


Business Skills

Like This Article?

Share it on social.