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Cannulas and scarring

Hiya all,

Back in costa and over recent months my veins have been seriously abused. Last night it took 5 attempts to cannulate, which the medical team have just needed to use and it spectacularly failed! So had another cannula put in which took 4 attempts to do. The poor reg knows I'm really bad with needles and couldn't apologise enough. Especially as she's just let me get away without ABGs based on what my lungs are doing - which is nothing useful!

My question is - obviously my veins seem to be a bit screwed because of the number of times they have been used, and they are staring to go quite hard. Is this something that is likely to get better if they are used less/rotated? Of are they likely to stay scared and increasingly difficult to cannulate?

Sorry for randomness!! Laura x

11 Replies

Hello there!!

Veins are great and work in very similar ways to any other damaged part of your body. If they are left alone they have a chance if recovering. This will depend though on how many times they have been stabbed in a short space because they will calcify, so build up and go hard which will equally make canulation difficult.

Though I wouldn't panic yet, if they need to get one in, in an emergency they will. They will use ultra sound machines, use it feet. Super outside arm, ankles, neck, fingers (these are just where I've had them) so they won't just give up on u.

Hope you feel better soon



Ahh thank you Charlie!! They have been abused a lot over the last few months!! Just aware that I seem to be increasingly difficult to cannulate. Though it's harder the more ill you are?

I'm trying to plot my escape, but not going too well. 3x mag and now aminophylline as despite being on O2 my po2 was dropping and pco2 increasing when I didn't get away with refusing ABGs. Was laughed at when I asked if I would get out tomorrow. Yuk!!

Hopefully they won't need further IV access, had enough of being stabbed!!

Laura x


Veins do scar unfortunately which is why folk end up with ports - either to prevent knackering all their veins with very frequent use, or because they are shot due to frequent use. But there are a lot of veins in your body to get IV access. My left forearm is getting pretty much unusable now - I'm lucky that Papworth use long lines which has preserved them for as long as possible, but they now have to go above the elbow, not below. Scars are scars - once it's scarred it's tough to get access in that spot. It's a shame most hospitals insist on using venflons even for longer IV treatment as they have to be regularly resited and cause more trauma to the veins. Cannula when ill shouldn't make any difference unless you are extremely dehydrated. Depends on the skill of the person doing it ;) Venous calcification is something rather different and not due to IV access. Hope you get out soon!


Cheers Lynda :-) thankfully I don't need permanent IV access and they can cannulate. It's just that where at one point it was always managed on the first attempt it now takes a lot more shots at it! Hoping that things improve from an asthma point of view. This is looking at being a fairly long admission I think, because while we were hoping I would be off the aminophylline today, I still had a fairly sudden/severe attack last night, so suspect at least a further 24 hours on the stuff. But maybe that will mean more control on discharge - sick of hospitals now. I don't think it's too much to ask of my lungs to behave for a bit!


Im very hard to canullate too, I have very small veins and arteries. I have just one good vein - my old blood donating vein! That is now my 'emergency' vein and isnt used for anything routine as its getting very scarred. My preferred place for canullas is the flat of my arms between wrist and elbow, but have had them in all sorts of places. My left hand became my blood test vein during my recent admission as it cooperated most days!


Bah - should never have mentioned long lines - just come back from Papworth with a new one in for 10 days of IV's. Bugger. Hope you're feeling a bit better this evening Laura.


Oh no - hope you're ok :-(

I'll be fine, just having a bit of a nightmare admission from an asthma perspective, though it's definitely better that I am where I am rather than trying to manage this flare at home which wouldn't be good! I'm waiting for the registrar to come for the 3rd night in a row and while she's lovely it seems a bit much. I do know what has triggered this off though this evening. It's not nice but the plan is to increase my aminophylline again I think. Been told also that I am not going to get out of hospital this side of the weekend - it's looking at being Monday/Tuesday and that is if it decides to behave in anyway at all. Need to get off the IVs for at least 24 hours and be stable before standing a chance ... can't even do pf at the min though ...

But hay ho, it could be worse - I'm not in ICU as they have made noises about!

Everyone looking after me is amazing though - really greatful for what they are doing :-)

Get better soon Lynda x


Yeah Im alright, just a bit frustrated - second IV course in a couple of months, and I find it really tiring because they are 8hrly so get in the way of sleep! Im like a zombie by the end of the ten days lol. Still, at least Im not in hospital, I should be grateful for that. Good to hear the team treating you are decent, it makes such a difference doesn't it. Hope you're feeling more stable today :)


I didn't even realise that you were able to do IV antibs at home!! I guess that's the advantage of having permanent IV access, though thankfully I am definitely not at a level where that is necessary. I'm just having a bit of a rough time lung wise at the min, but if it can get this bad so quickly then it can get better quickly too :-/

Annoyingly because of the amount of stropping my lungs are deciding to do at the min I have 2 cannulas in!! One the amino is running through and the other because they needed IV access yesterday and my other was being used for amino.

Hope you manage to sleep!!!


I don't know of anywhere apart from Papworth who do home IV's - lots of folk don't do it, too nervous lol but being a nurse I find it easy to do - and preferable to a ten day hospital stay! It's just screws my sleep up, I'm like a zombie by the end of it. Still have to be admitted if I need IV aminophylline which means I am motivated to nip things in the bud early to avoid it ;)

I don't have permanent IV access, they stick a long line in which lasts two weeks. I'm hoping I never need a port - at least for a fee years anyway!

Are you feeling better on the aminophylline?


Ahh ok!! I've never had a long line. Perhaps it would have been a good thing this admission though as I have been on IVs since mon, so by the time I am off them it will have been over a week of cannulas which keep failing and having to be redone!

Starting to feel a bit more human now, though my lungs are still ridiculously stroppy. They need to be put on the naughty step or given an asbo or something! The IV aminophylline is helping though I think. Certainly better than when I first came in, was given a few lots of mag, but kept rebounding spectacularly. Not been having the same level of attacks on the amino, it's more just like they are throwing a constant strop!

Are you starting to feel better now? xxx


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