Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide

Drips - the facts

During an operation or procedure your child may need to have a drip that is also known as a cannula or IV (intravenous). The drip will allow your child to be given fluid or medicines directly into a vein.

The doctor or nurse will put some local anaesthetic cream onto the skin to numb the area where the cannula is to be put. It takes about an hour for the cream to work. Your child will need to be held firmly but gently to make sure they do not move while the cannula is put into the vein. Once the cannula is in the vein, the needle is removed and a plastic tube is left in the vein. The plastic tube will be held in place with tape. This does not cause your child any discomfort. All fluids and medicines are then given through this cannula.

If possible any blood tests that the doctor has ordered will be taken from the cannula at the time of setting up the drip. At times there may not be enough blood collected from the cannula, if that happens a separate blood test will need to be taken. The cannula can become blocked, infected or it may leak. If this happens the drip may need to be changed. At times a bruise may form when the cannula is taken out of the vein - this will soon fade.

If your child asks about the tests being done, reassure them and explain in simple terms what is being done and why. Always tell the truth.

At times it is helpful to tell stories, talk about the family or anything else that may help to take their mind off the procedure. Remain calm and comfort your child, if you get upset so will your child.

The staff are there to help you and your child. If you would like more information please ask the nurse or doctor caring for your child.


  • A drip is used to give your child fluid or medicines directly into a vein
  • A bruise may form when the cannula is taken out of the vein - this will soon fade.

We acknowledge the New Children's and Sydney Children's Hospitals, Sydney, Australia for their consent to duplicate this information

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last modified: 30 Mar 2009