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AANA J. 2000 Feb;68(1):53-7.

Peripheral nerve injury from intravenous cannulation: a case report.

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  • 1William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Mich., USA.


The following is a case report of a patient who had an intravenous (i.v.) catheter inserted into her cephalic vein and thereafter sustained an injury to the superficial branch of the radial nerve. When an i.v. catheter penetrates a nerve, it can cause temporary or permanent damage. After sustaining an injury, a nerve will regenerate in an attempt to reconnect with the fibers it once innervated. Recovery from nerve damage may take only weeks or a year or more. Some patients, however, may sustain lifelong damage depending on the severity of the needle stick to the nerve. To avoid injury to peripheral nerves when inserting i.v. catheters, a few recommendations should be followed. First, if inserting an i.v. catheter in the cephalic vein, be conscious of the proximity of the superficial peripheral nerves. Second, if a paresthesia is elicited when inserting an i.v. catheter, withdraw the catheter immediately. Third, if a patient complains of paresthesias or numbness near the i.v. site, remove the i.v. catheter immediately. Fourth, limit the amount of probing after inserting the catheter into the skin. Finally, if nerve damage is suspected from a peripheral i.v. cannulation, consult a hand specialist promptly.

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