Ultrasound technique used for difficult venous access

Tuesday, 15 August, 2023

Ultrasound technique used for difficult venous access

The University of South Australia has completed research into the use of ultrasound techniques to assist with patient needle treatments.

The Fast Access and Advice for Intravenous Routes with Imaging (FAAIRI) service, led by nurses for children in Australia with difficult intravenous cannula access, is operated by the Southern Australian Medical Imaging (SAMI) for patients at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH).

The technique uses an ultrasound to determine the exact location of veins in order to ensure needles and cannula are inserted correctly on the first attempt. Conducted in partnership with SAMI and the WCH Network, the UniSA study explored the experiences of children who needed regular needle treatments, particularly those who had failed cannulation attempts due to ‘difficult venous access’ (DVA).

Researchers found that children with DVA experienced distress before (as insomnia, anxiety), during (fear or terror) and after their needle experience (in some instances, psychological distress).

“Intravenous cannulas (IVs) are one of the most common invasive hospital procedures for paediatric patients. But while these are a routine part of everyday health care, many children describe IVs as one of the most painful procedures in hospital,” said Dr Rebecca Sharp from UniSA’s Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre.

“Children with chronic health conditions, such as cancer and cerebral palsy, are at greater risk because they’re required to undergo repeated treatments via intravenous cannulas.”

Catherine Baring, Paediatric Vascular Access Nurse Consultant for the research team, said the addition of the ultrasound when performing a needle and cannula insertion will benefit children with DVA.

“By using ultrasound technology, we can accurately guide the cannula in, ensuring we get it right, first time. Ultrasound allows us to see exactly where the vein is and to quickly insert a needle with as little discomfort as possible,” Baring said.

The FAAIRI team have also begun training medical professionals in identifying DVA in order for patients to be referred directly to the team at the WCH.

Image credit: iStock.com/dimarik

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