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Peripheral intravenous line - infants

Alternative Names

PIV - infants; Peripheral IV - infants; Peripheral line - infants


A peripheral intravenous line (PIV) is a small, short plastic tube, called a catheter. It is placed through the skin into a vein, usually in the hand, arm, or foot, but sometimes in a baby's scalp.


A PIV is used to give fluids or medicines to a baby.


After the skin is cleaned, a small catheter with a needle inside is placed through the skin into the vein. Once it is in the proper position, the needle is removed and a plastic tube is connected to the catheter.


PIVs may be very difficult to place, especially if your baby is very chubby, sick, or small. In some cases, placement may not be successful, and another therapy is needed.

PIVs may fail after only 1 - 2 days. They may be changed from time to time to decrease the risk for infection.

If a PIV comes out of the vein and the fluid enters the tissue, the IV is said to have "infiltrated." This may cause the skin and tissue to get very irritated, and sometimes cause a tissue burn. Medications can be injected into the skin after an infiltrate occurs to reduce the risk of long-term skin damage.

Updated: 11/14/2011

Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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