An intravenous (IV) catheter is needed when your child's test requires that special medications or fluids be given directly into his/her bloodstream. IV catheter placement can be a frightening experience for many children. Children do best when they receive a simple description of the IV and calm reassurance from parents and caretakers just prior to IV placement. Be sure to speak in terms that your child will understand.
Your nurse may apply warm packs to help "plump up" the vein and make it easier to find, or put numbing cream on the skin to lessen the discomfort of the IV placement. The IV catheter is a tiny plastic tube with a needle inside. The needle helps the nurse put the tube through the skin and into the vein. Once the tube is in place, the needle is removed and only the soft tube remains in the vein. The site where the IV is placed is taped and may be secured to a "pillow" or arm board. The IV is often covered with a soft protective wrap so that young children will not be able to pull at the IV.
Our philosophy is to be truthful with children by describing the IV sensation as a quick "pinch" that feels better soon after the IV is in place. The healthcare team may need to help hold your child while the IV is being started. We will position you so that your child can see, hear, and touch you at all times so that you will be able to comfort him/her.
The IV remains in place until it is no longer needed for the test or recovery. It may remain in place longer if your child needs it for another appointment or test within the hospital, or if your child is being admitted to the hospital following the test/procedure.
Please go to the Kids Health Galaxy website for a cartoon video designed to prepare your child for IV placement. The Child Life and Education website contains information on helping your child cope and you can access information about your child's test on the Radiology Procedures section of our site.
Please notify the Radiology Phone Triage Nurse at 215-590-0694 and she will make a note of your request. Bring the physician's prescription/request for blood work with you on the day of your child's appointment. Upon arrival to the registration area, please have the registrar notify the radiology nurse of this request. The nurse caring for your child will review the information and let you know if we can try to get the blood sample. We will make every effort to draw blood at the same time as the IV placement, but priority will be given to placement of the IV for its use in the radiology test/procedure. Not all blood work can be drawn from the tiny IV catheter that we use in radiology and some blood tests require special collection techniques that are done in the lab by a phlebotomist.