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Research Center

Anesthesia Intravenous Catheter Blockage

11/03/2011

Question:

Hello: I would like to ask a medical procedures question. I have heard that during long surgical procedures the IV needle used to administer fluids may become blocked due to the human body`s immune system. I believe proteins cover the end of the needle, thus slowing the flow.

During the operation, the anesthesia doctor may monitor the IV needle using ultrasound and will routinely insert an inner needle to clear the blockage.

I would sincerely appreciate your pointing me to some references describing these activities if possible.

Lastly, I am an engineer working for a company that makes endoscopic imaging systems.

Thank you & Kind Regards

Answer:

Ultrasound is used by anesthesiologists to image blood vessels in order to accurately and safely place central venous catheters.

Intravenous lines do not generally block with protein deposits or due to an immune reaction.

Once an intravenous line is placed, it is not possible to replace the inner needle. Doing so risks damaging the Teflon cannula, even shearing off a fragment which can then pass into the circulation. Not a good idea.

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Response by:

Gareth S Kantor, MD Gareth S Kantor, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University