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Peripheral intravenous line - infants


A peripheral intravenous line (PIV) is a small, short, plastic tube, called a catheter. A health care provider puts the PIV through the skin into a vein in the scalp, hand, arm, or foot. This article addresses PIVs in babies.

Why is a PIV used?

A doctor or nurse uses the PIV to give fluids or medicines to a baby.

How is a PIV placed?

Your nurse or doctor will:

  • Clean the skin
  • Stick the small catheter with a needle on the end through the skin into the vein.
  • Once the PIV is in the proper position, the needle is taken out. The catheter stays in the vein.
  • The PIV is connected to a small plastic tube that connects to an IV bag.

What are the risks of a PIV?

PIVs can be hard to put in a baby, especially if your baby is very chubby, sick, or small. In some cases, the health care provider cannot put in a PIV. If this happens, another therapy is needed.

PIVs may stop working after only 1 or 2 days. If this happens, the PIV will be taken out and a new one will be put in. The PIV is changed from time to time to decrease the risk for infection.

If a PIV comes out of the vein, fluid from the IV can go into the body. When this happens the IV is considered "infiltrated." The IV site will look puffy and may be red. Sometimes, an infiltrate may cause the skin and tissue to get very irritated. The baby can get a tissue burn if the medicine is really irritating to the skin. In some special cases, medications may be injected into the skin to reduce the risk of long-term skin damage from an infiltrate.

Review Date: 10/29/2013
Reviewed By: Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2018 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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