Cannulation Camp: Fundamental needle cannulation coaching for dialysis workers – Brouwer – 2011 – Dialysis & Transplantation

Cannulation Camp: Basic needle cannulation training for dialysis staff - Brouwer - 2011 - Dialysis & Transplantation
January 31, 2021 0 Comments


Reprinted from the November 1995 situation of Dialysis & Transplantation, Vol. 24, No. 11.

How did you study to cannulate a dialysis entry? Most working towards nephrology nurses and technicians—myself included—had on‐the‐job coaching. We noticed our preceptor cannulate completely different sufferers who had both grafts or fistulas, after which had been handed the needles for our first cannulation try.

Little or no nursing analysis and/or literature is offered for a preceptor to make use of when educating the artwork of needle cannulation. The aim of this text is to offer present nephrology workers with a fundamental information of needle cannulation, data which can then be handed on to new workers getting into the nephrology discipline.

Step I: Determine the Sort of Entry and Path of Bloodflow

The popular dialysis entry is the arteriovenous (AV) fistula. This is because of its excessive patency fee and the sturdy capacity of the puncture websites to heal. Nevertheless, as a result of vascular limitations, solely about 30% of all dialysis sufferers have working AV fistulas.1

The commonest AV fistula is one connecting the radial artery to the cephalic vein, created on the affected person’s wrist. A fistula can be created within the higher arm, connecting the brachial artery with the axillary vein or one other higher arm vein, all of which result in the subclavian vein. A leg fistula can be created in sufferers with restricted entry choices.

The stream path of both a fistula or graft have to be appropriately recognized in an effort to guarantee correct needle cannulation. Most fistulas stream from the distal finish of the limb towards the venous return. The path of stream of a specific fistula could be simply recognized by finding the arterial anastomosis engorgement previous to placement of a tourniquet. One other technique is to pay attention for the bruit and really feel for the fun, which needs to be noticeably stronger on the arterial finish of the fistula.

Sadly, the stream path inside an implanted polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) graft can’t be so simply recognized. It is because a graft could be positioned in any location the place an artery and vein could be linked. The standard graft web site—i.e., the decrease arm (loop graft) and higher arm (straight graft)—have now been supplemented by straight or loop grafts within the leg, groin, stomach, chest, or neck. As such, the path of the bloodflow will not be obvious by visible inspection alone.

Cooperation with the vascular surgeon in acquiring a drawing or description of the bloodf1ow path is one of the best ways to make sure correct use of the entry. Within the absence of such information, a number of strategies can be utilized to find out bloodflow path. As beforehand talked about, probably the most generally used approach is to hearken to the bruit and really feel for the fun at each ends of the graft; the top with the stronger bruit and thrill is assumed to be the arterial limb. To verify this assumption, the mid‐graft space could be calmly compressed to impede the bloodflow; once more, the top with the stronger bruit and thrill could be thought-about to be the arterial limb.

Subsequent, the graft could be cannulated with two needles and the blood flashback noticed. When the mid‐graft space is compressed, the arterial needle flashback ought to stay seen, whereas the venous needle flashback ought to tremendously diminish or disappear.

If a graft is for use previous to the clearance of all residual operative edema, it could be troublesome to palpate the graft or to compress the mid‐graft phase in an effort to present a distinction in blood flashback throughout the arterial and venous needles. On this case, noting the venous strain and pre‐pump arterial strain might help in figuring out the bloodflow path. To perform this, the needles are linked to the dialysis circuit, a 200 mL/min bloodflow is achieved, and the mid‐graft area is calmly compressed. If the needles have been appropriately linked arterial‐to‐arterial and venous‐to‐venous, the venous strain will fall as a result of lower in bloodflow to the venous limb when the mid‐graft area is compressed. If the arterial bloodline has been incorrectly linked to the needle within the venous limb of the graft and the venous bloodline to the needle within the arterial limb, the pre‐pump arterial strain will change to a extra unfavorable quantity and the venous strain will improve. This can be a results of the midgraft compression inflicting the arterial bloodline com1ected to the venous limb of the graft to work more durable in an effort to obtain the inflowing blood; the venous strain will increase as a result of compression of the venous outflow monitor. If this happens, the bloodlines needs to be reversed, the mid‐graft compression repeated, and a fall within the venous strain ought to then be noticed.2

As soon as the path of the bloodflow is set, the affected person’s chart needs to be marked with the stream path. On this regard, grafts could be described as being both an everyday or “blue thumb” graft, or a reverse or “purple thumb” graft. A “blue thumb” graft is when the arterial influx is on the limb of the graft medial to the midline of the physique or coronary heart (see Determine 1). A reverse or “purple thumb” graft is one wherein the arterial influx is on the limb of the graft distal to the physique midline or coronary heart (see Determine 2).2 Of all dialysis loop grafts, roughly 80% are common, with the remaining 20% being reverse.3 The purple or blue thumb idea could be simply taught to sufferers in order that they might perceive the bloodflow path inside their very own entry.


Common or “blue thumb” graft.


Reverse or “purple thumb” graft.

Step II: Needle‐Website Choice

For the reason that placement and path of the entry needles can range, needle‐web site choice needs to be decided earlier than pores and skin preparation and needle cannulation are carried out.

It’s the path of the bloodflow that determines the needle placement. It is because the venous needle should all the time level towards the venous return. The arterial needle, however, might level in both path (see Figures 3 and 4).


Path of bloodflow decided needle placement.


Venous needle all the time factors towards the venous return. Arterial needle might level in both path.

The phrases “antegrade” and “retrograde” are used to explain the path of the arterial needle. Antegrade cannulation has the arterial needle pointing within the path of the bloodflow, that’s, towards the venous limb. Retrograde cannulation has the arterial needle pointing towards the arterial anastomosis.4 Both of those cannulation strategies can be utilized, with the selection being primarily based on unit observe.

When issues reminiscent of an infection or latest surgical revision dictate that just one limb of a loop graft can be utilized, the needles could also be positioned on the identical facet of the graft, with one needle positioned upward and the opposite downward, as proven in Determine 5. When that’s the case, the needles should all the time be a minimum of 1“ aside, as measured from hub to hub, in an effort to stop recirculation (see Determine 6).


Needle placement if just one portion of the graft can be utilized for cannulation.


Right minimal needle distance to stop recirculation.

Care needs to be taken in these instances the place the needles are positioned in the identical path on the identical limb, for if they’re positioned too shut, reminiscent of lower than 3” aside as measured from hub to hub, the needle bevels might contact or be too shut and result in recirculation (see Determine 7).2


Incorrect needle distance, with the needles too shut.

Each antegrade and retrograde cannulation can be utilized with AV fistulas, as effectively. Antegrade cannulation can be utilized to cannulate close to the arterial anastomosis of an entry with out the needles getting into the anastomosis web site. That is significantly useful with newly created AV fistulas that aren’t totally matured, because the antegrade cannulation can typically present the next bloodflow with much less bloodline collapse or line sucking, and a greater pre‐pump arterial strain.

Needle web site placement should all the time have in mind needle‐web site rotation. That is true for each AV fistulas and grafts. Correct needle‐web site rotation will prolong the life span of the entry by stopping pseudoaneurysm formation, or “one‐web site‐it’s” (see Figures 8 and 9). Moreover, fistulas which can be cannulated all through all the fistula will mature extra evenly, and grafts so cannulated is not going to develop flat, mushy areas attributable to repeated cannulation in the identical spots, which don’t permit for fibrous tissue formation and, subsequently, result in the event of enormous holes (Determine 9).


“One‐web site‐itis” as a result of repeated needle puncture in the identical location, the results of poor needle web site rotation.


A pseudoaneurysm attributable to “one‐web site‐itis,” which may result in graft failure.

A affected person file of the cannulation websites—reminiscent of an illustrated bedside cannulation chart and a cannulation score chart—can be utilized to assist guarantee full needle‐web site rotation (see Figures 10 and 11).


Bedside cannulation chart, displaying dates and places of prior needle puncture websites.


Pattern illustration of a needle cannulation chart, used to trace issue or ease of the cannulations.

Step III: Pores and skin Preparation

The needle websites chosen for cannulation have to be correctly prepped in an effort to stop an infection. Correct washing of the affected person’s entry space with water and an antibacterial cleaning soap needs to be carried out previous to cannulation. If the affected person is unable to clean his or her personal entry space, the dialysis workers can use a washcloth soaked with antibacterial cleaning soap to cleanse the world. A prepared‐to‐use antibacterial towel or prep pad can be used.

After cleaning, the websites ought to then be prepped with both Betadine or alcohol. As soon as utilized, Betadine have to be allowed to dry earlier than it’s an efficient antiseptic, whereas alcohol have to be utilized in a liquid state to be efficient.5 Through the preparation of the entry websites, common precautions, together with the carrying of gloves, should all the time be used to stop the unfold of an infection.

Step IV: Native Anesthesia

If the affected person experiences discomfort throughout cannulation, the administration of an intradermal injection of lidocaine could also be used instantly previous to the needle cannulation. Different brokers, reminiscent of ethyl chloride (Chloroethane) spray, or lidocaine 2.5% with prilocaine 2.5% (Emla Cream), can be used to stop discomfort from the cannulation.

Due to the potential for additional discomfort introduced on by extra needle sticks, the selection of utilizing lidocaine as an area anesthetic for needle cannulation needs to be on the request of the affected person; nonetheless, its use needs to be prevented within the case of a deep or edematous graft—which can happen with newly created PTFE grafts—the place the injection of lidocaine prevents palpation and straightforward cannulation.

When utilizing lidocaine, the minimal quantity (0.2 cc) needs to be used, and the affected person needs to be warned that the injection may burn or sting. Care should all the time be taken to make sure that the lidocaine is injected solely into the tissue on prime of the entry and by no means into the graft or fistula itself.

Step V: Needle Choice

The precise gauge of the needles used for cannulation ought to all the time be ordered by the nephrologist in an effort to be certain that an sufficient bloodflow fee is achieved for the right supply of the dialysis prescription. The size of the needles, however, could also be altered by the dialysis workers in an effort to attain, as an example, deep grafts reminiscent of these discovered within the higher arm of an overweight affected person, the place a 1“ needle will not be lengthy sufficient to cannulate the graft or advance far sufficient into the graft to stop motion. In that case, a 1‐1/4” needle could also be useful.

The needles used ought to all the time have a again eye to make sure that the optimum stream is achieved. Moreover, the usual 16‐gauge needle might should be elevated to a 15‐ or 14‐gauge in an effort to obtain bloodf1ows higher than 300 mL/min (bloodflow charges of 350 to 500 mL/min are actually normal in lots of dialysis models).

Pre‐pump arterial strain monitoring can assist decide if the needle gauge must be elevated. If the arterial strain falls decrease than ‐200 to ‐250 mmHg, the needle measurement needs to be elevated (i.e., a smaller gauge quantity needs to be used). Nevertheless, this choice ought to first be mentioned with the dialysis workers and the nephrologist.

Step VI: Cannulation Approach

The needle needs to be held by the wings, with the bevel of the needle dealing with upward for the cannulation (see Determine 12). This locations the chopping fringe of the needle on the pores and skin, which facilitates cannulation by the pores and skin, subcutaneous tissue, and the graft wall or fistula vessel wall.


Right needle angle, with the bevel dealing with upward.

The needle needs to be held at a 20‐ to 35‐diploma angle for AV fistulas, and at roughly a forty five‐diploma angle for grafts.6 As soon as the needle has been superior by the pores and skin, subcutaneous tissue, and graft or fistula wall, the blood flashback needs to be seen. Proceed to advance the needle no higher than 1/8 of an inch after which rotate the needle 180 levels (see Determine 13).6 The needle bevel is rotated to assist stop a “again wall” or posterior wall infiltration, which may happen if the needle’s bevel tip by accident punctures the underside of the graft or fistula (see the dialogue below “Cannulation Drawback Fixing”). The needle ought to then be leveled out (i.e., positioned flat towards the pores and skin) after which superior slowly as much as the needle hub (see Determine 14).


180‐diploma rotation (“flipping”) of the needle, carried out to stop again‐wall infiltration.


Leveling out of the needle, adopted by needle development

Step VII: Securing the Needle

The wings of the fistula needle could be secured by utilizing a butterfly tape approach. A bit of 1“‐vast adhesive tape 6” or higher in size is rigorously positioned below the fistula needle wings after which folded in order that it crosses over the needle web site. An adhesive bandage or a 2×2 gauze pad is then positioned over the needle and secured by one other 6”‐lengthy piece of tape.

The needles have to be secured in place in an effort to stop unintentional dislodgment or motion of the needles throughout the entry, and care have to be taken to observe the needles for inadvertent motion through the dialysis remedy. This motion throughout the graft or fistula may end up from the affected person rotating or bending his or her entry limb, which can result in poor bloodflow and/or needle infiltration.

Particular care have to be taken with deep or edematous grafts as a result of the needles are extra vulnerable to shift after the cannulation. With edematous grafts, this outcomes from the edema being displaced following the applying of strain through the palpation and cannulation of the graft, with the edema subsequently returning to the subcutaneous tissue surrounding the cannulation websites and inflicting the motion of the needles. With deep grafts, motion can happen merely due to the quantity of tissue urgent towards the needle.

Ought to any motion of the needles happen through the dialysis process, a 2×2 gauze pad could also be positioned below the needle wings to appropriate the needle angle. Care have to be taken with any change to the needle place in order that infiltration into the again or facet wall of the graft or fistula is prevented.

Step VIII: Cannulation Drawback Fixing

If resistance is felt at any time throughout needle development or needle place change, the needle needs to be pulled again and the angle redirected. When unsure, all the time ask a colleague for assist.

A again or facet wall infiltration can happen with any needle cannulation. If an infiltration does happen previous to the affected person receiving heparin, the needle needs to be pulled out and digital strain utilized to the exit web site by putting two fingers alongside the entry‐extending over a minimal of a 1” span‐within the space of the infiltration. Sadly, it’s troublesome to regulate again or facet wall bleeding as a result of direct strain to the puncture web site just isn’t potential.

If the affected person has already acquired heparin, the infiltration web site have to be rigorously assessed to see if the needle needs to be pulled out or left in place with ice utilized over the location till the dialysis remedy is accomplished. If the infiltration web site stays secure with no improve within the measurement of the hematoma, the needle could be safely left in place and pulled out on the finish of the remedy. If, nonetheless, the hematoma will increase in measurement, the needle needs to be eliminated and digital strain utilized. By no means apply strain to an infiltration web site whereas the needle remains to be within the vessel, as this might trigger additional harm to the vessel wall.

Ought to an infiltration happen, cannulation with one other needle needs to be carried out at a spot as far-off from the infiltration web site as potential. If the infiltration has been attributable to a venous needle, the second needle needs to be positioned above the infiltration web site. Nevertheless, this isn’t all the time potential, and if the venous needle have to be positioned under the infiltration web site, it needs to be positioned 1 1‐1/2“ to 2” away from the location to stop the needle tip from dislodging the clot formation on the web site of the vessel wall infiltration. Following the second cannulation, cautious flushing of the venous needle, together with a gradual restart of the dialysis blood pump, needs to be carried out in an effort to monitor the infiltration web site for a rise in hematoma measurement.

Care have to be taken with all needle cannulations in an effort to stop infiltrations. A extreme infiltration, reminiscent of a posterior or again wall infiltration in a PTFE graft, can result in the formation of a big hematoma and subsequent graft compression and/or graft thrombosis. Whereas the usage of the 180‐diploma needle rotation, or “flip,” mentioned earlier just isn’t essential to appropriately cannulate a PTFE graft or fistula, it could assist lower the possibility of a extreme infiltration. When coaching new workers, this system could also be significantly useful in stopping the workers member from advancing the needle into and thru the vessel in a single easy, uncontrolled motion.

In a latest article by Hartigan, the query is raised as as to if flipping the needle might, the truth is, truly trigger extra trauma to the intimal of the entry.4 Nevertheless, Hartigan acknowledges that no managed research have been carried out to deal with the dangers and advantages of f1ipping or not flipping the needle throughout cannulation. Dialysis workers, due to this fact, ought to consider the infiltration issues that happen inside their very own observe and appropriately modify cannulation strategies in an effort to lower the variety of infiltrations.

Step IX: Removing of the Needles

Correct needle removing is as necessary as correct needle cannulation, for if the needles are improperly eliminated, harm to the vessel wall can happen, whether or not with PTFE grafts or AV fistulas.

The tape needs to be rigorously eliminated submit‐dialysis to stop motion of the needles. Every needle is then withdrawn slowly, at a 20‐diploma angle, till all the needle has been eliminated. To stop harm to the vessel wall, digital strain shouldn’t be utilized throughout needle rcmova1.6 If the needle bevel has been rotated 180 levels throughout insertion, there is no such thing as a medical proof or analysis that helps the re‐flip or re‐rotation of the needle earlier than it’s withdrawn.

As soon as the needle has been eliminated, gentle digital strain needs to be utilized to the needle exit websites of each the pores and skin and graft or vessel wall (see Determine 15). A gauze pad needs to be held over the websites with fixed strain, with out peeking, for 10 to fifteen minutes. To make sure that each the pores and skin and vessel needle exit websites are being compressed, the affected person ought to place each the index and center fingers over the gauze pad, with the thumb wrapped across the limb like a “C” clamp. This may preserve the affected person from shifting the compression off of the exit websites, which might allow bleeding. The bruit and thrill ought to proceed to be discernible above and under the compression websites, a sign that bloodflow occlusion (which may presumably trigger thrombosis of the entry) has been averted. A member of the family could be educated to help sufferers who’re unable to keep up compression of their very own needle websites.


Right utility of strain to the needle exit web site.

When utilizing topical clotting brokers, care have to be taken to make sure that the cannulation web site has clotted and never simply the needle exit web site of the pores and skin, for if hemostasis just isn’t achieved, blood might leak out into the subcutaneous tissue surrounding the graft. This typically occurs when the affected person stands as much as exit the dialysis unit, at which era the cannulation web site can start re‐bleeding if the clot over the pores and skin puncture web site is dislodged. If re‐bleeding just isn’t seen from the pores and skin puncture web site however has occurred subcutaneously, ecchymotic areas will probably be current when the affected person returns for his or her subsequent dialysis remedy.

Step X: Discharge Dressing and Evaluation

At all times discharge the affected person from the unit with an adhesive bandage or gauze pad over the cannulation websites. Tape could also be used to safe the pad however shouldn’t be so tight that it compresses the lumen of the entry.

Earlier than the affected person leaves the unit, assess and doc the standard of the bruit and thrill. If the bruit or thrill is tremendously decreased or absent, the affected person should not be discharged till the nephrologist has been notified. And bear in mind, a Doppler‐constructive bruit doesn’t all the time equate with a constructive bruit and thrill.


Nursing analysis is required to raised consider all cannulation procedures. Our purpose needs to be to soundly cannulate any entry with out inflicting pointless harm to the affected person’s lifeline. As such, the fundamentals of needle cannulation have to be brazenly mentioned amongst all affected person care workers members. We should work towards having all dialysis workers members perceive and grasp the fundamentals of vascular entry.

The basic rules of vascular entry needs to be used to assist prepare future dialysis workers members in an effort to enhance the standard of care that future dialysis sufferers will obtain. We should proceed to realize information on this necessary space by nursing analysis and training.


The illustrations for this text had been tailored with permission from W.L. Gore & Associates.