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IV stands for intravenous (inside the vein).
An IV is a small tube called a catheter. It is inserted into a vein. The IV is about the size of a small straw or coffee stirrer.
Childhood cancer patients may need an IV for several reasons. It can be used to deliver fluids, medicines, and/ or nutrients into the body through a vein. An IV can also be used to remove blood needed for laboratory tests.
When a patient has an IV, it means he or she does not have to be stuck with a needle each time he or she needs intravenous treatment or to have blood samples taken. IVs may stay in for up to 3-4 days.
Patients who need chemotherapy or other procedures that require access to veins over an extended period of time often get central venous access devices. They are designed to stay in the body more than a few days. However, even patients with these devices may need IVs to receive certain liquids. For example, an IV may be needed to deliver contrast agents for diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Before the procedure, patients sometimes need to change into a hospital gown.
An IV is inserted using a small needle. Once the IV tube is in place, the needle is removed.
Since IV placement involves a needle, the patient will experience some pain. Some children are afraid of needles.
Sometimes the health care provider placing the IV can apply a medicine such as lidocaine to numb the area where the IV will be placed. The patient will still feel the pressure of the needle going into the skin. But the medicine should remove the pain.
The patient is then ready for procedures that require an IV. It will remain in the vein until the tube is taken out later.
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Reviewed: June 2018