Randomised clinical trial of elective re-siting of intravenous cannulae

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Peripheral venous thrombophlebitis (PVT) represents a considerable source of iatrogenic morbidity, occurring in about 20% of hospital in-patients. The aim of this prospective randomised study was to investigate the effect of elective change of intravenous cannulae on the incidence of PVT in hospital in-patients.

Patients and Methods

General medical and surgical inpatients requiring intravenous therapy were randomised into control (n = 26) or study (n = 21) groups. Cannulae in the control group were only removed if the site became painful, the cannula dislodged, or there were signs of PVT. Cannulae in the study group were changed electively every 48 h. All patients were examined daily for signs of PVT.


Peripheral venous thrombophlebitis developed in 11/26 patients in the control group and 1/21 patients in the study group (P = 0.003). Elective change of cannulae did not significantly increase the total number of cannulae sited (41 cannulae in the control group versus 43 in the study group).


Elective change of cannulae resulted in a significant reduction in the incidence of infusion phlebitis. The authors recommend that elective re-siting of intravenous cannulae becomes standard practice for all patients requiring intravenous therapy.

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