Tuesday, January 28, 2014

IV Catheters—a little peace of mind is priceless! by Dr. Sunday Cozzi

Photo courtesy of http://www.lbah.com/word/fluid-therapy-2/
Intravenous, or IV catheters are used to deliver fluids or drugs directly into the circulatory system.  Catheters are often placed in sick patients, cancer patients (for chemotherapy infusion), patients that require serial blood collection, or to provide venous access and a route for fluid delivery during surgery/anesthesia.

The location of the catheter depends on its function.  For instance, a ‘peripheral catheter’ is placed in a vein in one of the limbs in dogs and cats.  Most frequently—the cephalic vein, located on the front of the forelimb, is used.  Sometimes one of the saphenous veins is utilized—they are located in the rear limbs on the inside of the thigh, and on the outside of the leg just above the hock. Peripheral catheters are short and generally easy to place but often don’t last more than three days without having to be replaced. They are used for anesthetic/surgical procedures and hospital stays when the animal is expected to recover relatively quickly. They are generally not useful for collecting blood samples. Central catheters (or ‘central lines’) are exactly as they sound—a longer catheter in a central vein—these can be placed in the medial or lateral saphenous veins, or the jugular vein. These are better used for serial blood collection, or if the patient is in intensive care and is expected to require medical intervention for more than 3-4 days.

Frequently, the first time that a pet owner hears about IV catheters is when their pet is dropped off at the veterinarian for an elective procedure such as a spay, neuter or dental prophylaxis. Your vet may require or recommend that an IV catheter be placed for these procedures. Here’s the thing—in an emergency, this access is priceless. Should something go wrong during anesthesia—rare, but it does happen—you don’t want the minutes ticking by while your precious baby’s life hangs in the balance as a technician or vet struggles to get that catheter in place.  There are drugs and IV fluids that can support an animal that is having a difficult time either due to the anesthesia or in reaction to what is going on in surgery.  But…you’ve got to get them into the pet…quickly.  If they ask you whether you want to opt for the catheter, your answer should be, “Absolutely!”  They say hindsight is 20-20, and you just don’t want to find that out the hard way.  Do keep in mind that the catheter placement will require a small area of fur to be shaved.  It will grow back before you know it, and is a small price to pay.


Written by Dr. Sunday Cozzi

Read more or contact Dr. Sunday:

Dr. Sunday Cozzi
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
(803) 994-9460
Central Savannah River Area

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