Information for patients
This leaflet can be made available in other formats including large print, CD and Braille and in languages other than English, upon request.
What is a cannula?
A cannula is a fine tube inserted into a vein, usually in the back of your hand or arm, using a small fine needle. The needle is removed and the tube is left inside your vein. The cannula has 1 or more connectors which allow staff to give fluids and medication (drugs) directly into your bloodstream. Sometimes a cannula may be inserted into your foot, leg or other part of your body. A cannula is sometimes called a Venflon.
What care should be taken when my cannula is inserted?
To reduce the risk of infection the nurse or doctor who will insert your cannula should clean their hands and wear gloves and an apron. The skin around the area will be cleaned. All cannulas are used only once and come from the manufacturer sterilised and in a sealed packet. The packaging is opened just before use. A note will be made in your healthcare record of the date and time when your cannula was inserted.
If you have not seen the nurse or doctor who is going to insert your cannula clean their hands, do not be afraid to ask if they have.
How should my cannula be cared for after insertion?
To reduce the risk of an infection and to hold the cannula securely in place, a sterile, transparent (see through) dressing will be placed over it. This allows your nurses to check there are no signs of an infection developing around the cannula insertion site.
Before giving any fluids or medication through your cannula, staff will clean the connectors with a small alcohol wipe.
You should tell one of your nurses if your dressing becomes loose, stained or dirty.
What should I do if my cannula becomes painful?
If your cannula becomes painful or the area around it becomes red or swollen you must tell one of your nurses immediately. It may need to be removed.
Can I get washed with my cannula in place?
You can usually wash, shower or bathe as normal but you need to take care your cannula does not get knocked or the connectors become open. If you are unsure or need help, ask one of your nurses.
How long should my cannula be kept in place?
Your cannula insertion site should be checked at least twice a day for pain or redness. The cannula itself can remain in place until it is no longer needed, provided it is not causing any problems.
One of your nurses will remove your cannula before you are discharged from hospital.
Please make sure you do not go home with the cannula in place, unless you are to receive intravenous medications at home provided by community services staff.
Should you arrive home with the cannula still in place and you have not been specifically told that you are to receive treatment at home, it is important that you contact the ward/area from which you were discharged and inform staff of this fact. They will advise you as to the best course of action. Please call the switchboard on 01642 617617 and ask to speak to the ward you were discharged from.
If the cannula is removed in the home it can be wrapped in tissue paper and disposed of with the domestic waste.
If you have any questions or concerns please talk to one of your nurses or doctors.
Further information available
Calls to this number are free from landlines and mobile phones
When it is less urgent than 999 call 111
Information used in the development of this leaflet
RCN (2016) Standards for infusion therapy 4th Edition [Online]. Available at:
https://www.rcn.org.uk/professional-development/publications/pub-005704 (Accessed 04 April 2023)
NICE guideline (CG139) (2012) Vascular access devices | Information for the public | Healthcare-associated infections: prevention and control in primary and community care | Guidance | NICE (Accessed 04 April 2023)
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:00pm
Email: [email protected]
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these policies and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet Reference: PIL1426
Date for Review: 10/05/2026