Cannula vs. Catheter

By Jaxson

Main Difference

The main difference between Cannula and Catheter is that the Cannula is a tube that can be inserted into the body, e.g. for the delivery or removal of fluid or for the gathering of samples and Catheter is a medical device

  • Cannula

    A cannula (; from Latin “little reed”; plural cannulae or cannulas) is a tube that can be inserted into the body, often for the delivery or removal of fluid or for the gathering of samples. In simple terms, a cannula can surround the inner or outer surfaces of a trocar needle thus extending the effective needle length by at least half the length of the original needle. It is also called an intravenous (IV) cannula. Its size mainly ranges from 14 to 24 gauge. Different-sized cannula have different colours as coded.

    Decannulation is the permanent removal of a cannula (extubation), especially of a tracheostomy cannula, once a physician determines it is no longer needed for breathing.

  • Catheter

    In medicine, a catheter is a thin tube made from medical grade materials serving a broad range of functions. Catheters are medical devices that can be inserted in the body to treat diseases or perform a surgical procedure. By modifying the material or adjusting the way catheters are manufactured, it is possible to tailor catheters for cardiovascular, urological, gastrointestinal, neurovascular, and ophthalmic applications.

    Catheters can be inserted into a body cavity, duct, or vessel. Functionally, they allow drainage, administration of fluids or gases, access by surgical instruments, and also perform a wide variety of other tasks depending on the type of catheter. The process of inserting a catheter is “catheterization”. In most uses, a catheter is a thin, flexible tube (“soft” catheter) though catheters are available in varying levels of stiffness depending on the application. A catheter left inside the body, either temporarily or permanently, may be referred to as an “indwelling catheter” (for example, a peripherally inserted central catheter). A permanently inserted catheter may be referred to as a “permcath” (originally a trademark).

  • Cannula (noun)

    A tube inserted in the body to drain or inject fluid.

  • Cannula (noun)

    A hose or tube that connects directly to an oxygen (O2) bottle/source from the user’s nose, commonly used by aircraft pilots or others needing direct oxygen breathing apparatus.

  • Catheter (noun)

    A small inserted into a drug, opening, remove fluid.


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