Health Library

Health Library

Intravenous Line and Tubes

Because most babies in the NICU are too small or sick to take milk feedings, medications and fluids are often given through their veins or arteries. Babies may also need frequent lab tests and measurements of blood oxygen levels. There are several ways a baby may receive fluids and medications and have blood drawn without additional needle sticks, including the following:

  • Intravenous line (IV). Babies may have an IV placed in a hand, foot, or scalp, where veins are easily accessed. Tubing connects the IV to a bag containing fluids that are carefully delivered with a pump.

  • Umbilical catheter. After the umbilical cord is cut at birth, newborn babies have the short stumps of the cord remaining. Because the umbilical cord stump is still connected to their blood and circulatory system, a catheter (small flexible tube) can be inserted into one of the two arteries or the vein of the umbilical cord. Medications, fluids, and blood can be given through this catheter. After placement of the umbilical catheter, X-rays are taken to check the location in the baby's body.

  • Percutaneous line. A catheter is placed in a deep vein or artery in the baby's arm or leg and is used for meeting a baby's longer-term needs than an IV in the hand or scalp.

A baby may need IV lines or catheters for just a short time or for many days. Once a baby is well enough to take milk feedings and is gaining weight, IV lines can often be removed. Sometimes, an IV may be needed for giving a baby antibiotics or other medication even when the baby can be fed normally.

Intravenous Line and Tubes - WellSpan Health

Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Trevino, Heather M., BSN, RNC
© 2014 WellSpan Health. All Rights Reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×