What are intravenous lines and tubes?
Sometimes, babies are too small or too sick to eat or take medications. In these cases, nutrient fluids and medications are often given through your baby’s veins and arteries using tubes that are inserted and remain in place as long as needed. These can also be used for drawing blood, without repeatedly sticking your baby with needles.
Even if your baby can be fed normally, an intravenous line may be needed to deliver antibiotics or other medication or to draw blood. This way, caregivers can avoid repeatedly sticking your baby with needles.
Your baby may need intravenous lines for just a short time or for many days. Once your baby is well enough to take milk feedings and is gaining weight, the lines can often be removed.
What are the types of intravenous lines and tubes?
- Intravenous (IV) lines are connected to veins close to the surface of your baby’s skin, typically in the hand, foot, or scalp. The tubes are connected to a bag containing fluids that are regulated and delivered by a pump.
- Umbilical catheters are connected to arteries or veins in the remainder of your baby’s umbilical cord. Even after the umbilical cord is cut at birth, your baby’s umbilical cord stump is still connected to his or her blood and circulatory system. After placement of the umbilical catheter, x-rays are typically taken to check the location in your baby's body.
- Percutaneous lines are placed in deeper veins or arteries in your baby’s arm for longer terms needs than IV lines in the hand, foot, or scalp.