Scalp Vein Catheterization Periprocedural Care

Updated: Dec 17, 2020
  • Author: Ethan Bergvall, MD; Chief Editor: Vincent Lopez Rowe, MD, FACS  more...
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Periprocedural Care


Having the appropriate equipment is of utmost importance for successful scalp vein catheterization. Minimum equipment required includes the following:

  • Elastic band tourniquet
  • Adequate lighting
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Syringes, filled with 0.9% saline, for flush
  • Tape for securing the intravenous (IV) catheter and tubing
  • Appropriately sized IV over-the-needle catheter - Catheters of 22-24 gauge are frequently selected for use in small children and infants and are usually an appropriate choice for the scalp veins

Patient Preparation


Use of anesthesia is generally not indicated. Topical anesthesia may be considered with the use of a lidocaine cream or patch, but these require at least 20-30 minutes to be effective. For more information, see Anesthesia, Topical.


The patient should be lying in a supine position with his or her head turned so that the desired scalp vein is visible and readily accessible. The clinician should be located at the head of the bed with the patient’s feet extending away from the clinician. A slight head-down position may facilitate catheterization by distending the veins of the head and neck. To minimize the risk of injury to either the patient or the clinician, care should be taken to ensure that the patient is appropriately restrained.