Intravenous Catheter, Pediatric

ExitCare ImageWhen children cannot eat or drink for a short time, they must get their food, water, and medications another way. A tube called an intravenous catheter (IV) is used to give fluids. These can include vitamins, water, salts, sugar, and medications. The IV tube usually goes into a vein. The vein used is usually in the hand or arm but may also be in the neck or chest. The nurse puts bags of fluid on a silver metal pole. Fluid flows from the bag through a tube to a machine called a pump. The tube from the bag goes through the pump, then to the tube that is in the vein. This pump can make a noise which sounds like a beep. The beep tells the nurse more fluid is needed or that there may be something blocking the flow of fluid through the tube. When the nurse adds another bag of fluid and/or gets the fluid flowing again, the beeping will stop.


  • Allergies.

  • Medications taken including herbs, eye drops, over the counter medications, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicine.

  • History of blood clots.

  • History of bleeding or blood problems.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems.


Most IV insertions are quick, painless, and without side effects or complications. However, as with any procedure, there are always possible risks. They include:

  • Failure to successfully place the IV tube in the vein

  • Pain

  • Puncture of the wall of the vein requiring use of a different site for the IV

  • Slight bruising of the skin

  • Infiltration - fluid and medicine in the IV fluid leaks through the wall of the vein into the skin

  • Infection

  • Allergic reaction to numbing medicine injected before the IV is started (if this is done)


Your child's caregiver will clean the skin around the vein where the IV tube will be placed. Your child may also receive a tiny shot of numbing medicine in the skin before the tube is put into the vein.


After the IV catheter is successfully in the vein, it is held in place with tape or other material. Every once in a while, your caregiver will remove the tape, clean the skin, and replace the tape.

When the IV is no longer needed, the tubing is removed from the pump, the flow of fluid is turned off, the tape is removed, and the IV tube is easily removed without pain. A bandage or dressing is then placed over that site.


If your child is going home after the IV is removed, then follow these instructions:

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • For a day after the IV has been removed, your child should avoid stressing the area where the IV was placed.

  • Your child may shower normally beginning about 4 hours after the IV has been removed.

  • If a small amount of bleeding develops at the IV site, change your child's bandage or dressing.


  • Your child has repeated or worsening swelling around the puncture site.

  • There is drainage or bleeding from the puncture area that will not stop

  • Your child develops red streaking that extends above or below the site where the needle had been placed.

  • A large bruise develops around the puncture site.


  • Bleeding from the IV site develops and will not stop even after pressure is applied for 10 minutes.

  • Red streaking develops above and/or below the IV site.

  • Fever develops.

  • There is loss of sensation and/or weakness in the arm or the leg where the IV had been placed.

  • There is intense pain in the arm or leg where the IV was located.