Management of difficult intravenous access
Background: A perennial challenge faced by clinicians and made even more relevant with the global obesity epidemic, difficult intravenous access (DIVA) adversely impacts patient outcomes by causing significant downstream delays with many aspects of diagnoses and therapy. As most published DIVA strategies are limited to various point-of-care ultrasound techniques while other “tricks-of-the-trade” and pearls for overcoming DIVA are mostly relegated to informal nonpublished material, this article seeks to provide a narrative qualitative review of the iterature on DIVA and consolidate these strategies into a practical algorithm.
Methods: We conducted a literature search on PubMed using the keywords “difficult intravenous access”, “peripheral vascular access” and “peripheral venous access” and searched emergency medicine and anaesthesiology resources for relevant material. These strategies were then categorized and incorporated into a DIVA algorithm.
Results: We propose a Vortex approach to DIVA that is modelled after the Difficult Airway Vortex concept starting off with standard peripheral intravenous cannulation (PIVC) techniques, progressing sequentially on to ultrasound-guided cannulation and central venous cannulation and finally escalating to the most invasive intraosseous access should the patient be in extremis or should best efforts with the other lifelines fail.
Conclusion: DIVA is a perennial problem that healthcare providers across various disciplines will be increasingly challenged with. It is crucial to have a systematic stepwise approach such as the DIVA Vortex when managing such patients and have at hand a wide repertoire of techniques to draw upon.
Ng M, Mark LKF, Fatimah L. Management of difficult intravenous access: a qualitative review. World J Emerg Med. 2022;13(6):467-478. doi: 10.5847/wjem.j.1920-8642.2022.104. PMID: 36636560; PMCID: PMC9807392.