Glossary Entry: Peripheral Venous Catheter


Definition: A peripheral venous catheter is a small, flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein, typically in the arm, to administer medication, fluids, or to draw blood. It is an essential tool in medical practice for providing temporary access to the circulatory system.

Detailed Description

Types and Variations

Variations: Peripheral venous catheters come in various sizes, ranging from 14 to 24 gauge. They may also feature different materials, such as polyurethane or silicone, and variations in length and design to accommodate specific patient needs.


Common Uses: Peripheral venous catheters are commonly used for delivering medications and fluids, administering blood transfusions, and obtaining blood samples for diagnostic tests.

Insertion and Placement

Procedure: To insert a peripheral venous catheter, the healthcare professional cleans the insertion site, typically the arm, using an antiseptic solution and then uses a needle to puncture the vein. The catheter is then threaded through the needle, the needle is removed, and the catheter is secured in place with a dressing.

Clinical Considerations

Potential Complications

Risks: Potential complications associated with peripheral venous catheters include infection at the insertion site, phlebitis, and infiltration, which occurs when the catheter inadvertently dislodges from the vein and leaks fluids into the surrounding tissue.

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance Requirements: Proper care of a peripheral venous catheter involves regular monitoring for signs of infection, maintaining the integrity of the insertion site dressing, and promptly addressing any signs of complications.

Additional Information

Related Devices

Associated Terms: Accessories commonly used with peripheral venous catheters include extension sets, catheter securement devices, and infusion pumps for delivering precise volumes of medications or fluids.

Innovations and Advancements

Recent Developments: Innovations in peripheral venous catheter design include antimicrobial coatings and technologies to reduce the risk of infection and improve patient comfort.

Regulatory and Safety Notes

Regulations: Peripheral venous catheters must adhere to regulatory standards for medical devices, and healthcare professionals must follow safe practices for insertion and maintenance to minimize complications and ensure patient safety.