Wild Tiger Health Project
Created by Dr John C M Lewis

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Intravenous catheter placement

Intravenous (IV) catheters are usually placed to allow IV drug or fluid administration. It is good practice to place an IV catheter in any anaesthetised tiger.

An area of skin surrounding the point of vein entry should be clipped and cleaned with surgical spirit. The vein should then be raised, either by an assistant or by the use of a tourniquet. An over the needle catheter should be advanced through the skin into the vein at an angle of about 30 degrees. Once blood is visualised in the flash chamber the catheter should be moved gently so it is parallel with the limb and the stylet and catheter unit should be advanced a small distance further into the lumen of the vein. The stylet should then be held firmly in position whilst the catheter is advanced slowly off the stylet and completely into the vein. The stylet can then be removed and a bung applied to the catheter. The catheter should be secured with adhesive tape encircling the leg and including the catheter- there should be one circle of tape below the catheter and another circle on top of the catheter, fixing it in place.

The easiest sites for IV catheter placement in the tiger are the medial saphenous vein and the lateral saphenous vein. The cephalic vein can be hard to visualise due the amount of musculature in the tiger’s forelimb.