Small veins and cannulas - a tip that has helped me

I am a myeloma patient with tiny wrists and small (and apparently deep) veins. I need to have a cannula put in every month for a zoledronic acid infusion. Currently, I’m on tablet chemo and don’t need a line at present.

In my previous hospital, the nurse would give me a bucket of warm water so I could soak my hands for 5 mins to warm up the veins which made them much easier to work with. Having recently moved areas to a new hospital, I have discovered this strategy is not - or no longer - allowed on the grounds of health and safety. This may apply to all hospitals now (?) which is why I am posting this in case anyone else has been affected by this change.

So I had an idea. I bought a pair of microwavable hand warmers called ‘Hot Mitts’ (cost of around £14). As I now live conveniently near to my local hospital, I warm up the gloves before setting off. I wear them in the car (with my husband kindly doing the driving) , in the waiting room and through into the ward until the nurse is ready. Even if I was driving myself, I would use them but put them on once I’d parked. The heat lasts for just about the right amount of time: up to about 30 mins.

So far, this strategy has worked brilliantly and I’ve had three consecutive easy, no-fuss, first-time-straight-in cannulas!! :tada: It makes such a difference! Hats off to the skilful nurses too. One of them said she appreciated the gloves as it made her task so much easier.

The only down side is sitting in the waiting room wearing huge red gloves in the summer. My husband finds this extremely funny, but then he’s great at seeing the amusing side in everything which makes me laugh too.

I hope this may be of help to someone.


I was constantly told it was difficult to get blood because my hands were too cold. I use a microwavable oat bag, in a vibrant check pattern, while in the car and the waiting room, it does seem to help. Get odd looks in the summer!


My veins don’t like being touched as soon as they feel a sharp they disappear
At our unit they have bags which they heat up in micro
They are like jelly
I have one good vein that has been used for the last 6 years for Zometa
Last time I had Zometa it took 4 tries to get a line in
One of the older nurses had to take over as the youngster couldn’t do it.


Same problem with my veins. I always make sure I am really well hydrated and keep my gloves on until the last minute, sometimes inserting a hand warmer into them too. (Also the nurses sometimes fill a surgical glove with warm water to put on the back of my hand if they can’t get blood from my elbow or arm )


Well @Coastgirl @Suey @2DB and @CaroleCW thank you so much for the ‘handy’ hints.
Perhaps the Queen wore heated white gloves in the winter!!


Thank you for the information. I always have problems but this sounds like a great solution.


My veins are rubbish too, i definitely know the best ones for them to go for . Some phlebotomists / medics take my suggestions others just seem to ignore me like I’m talking gobbledygook . The record was 12 attempts- it’s a real good job I’m not bothered by it. Being well hydrated and warm definitely helps.


That’s great that your hospital takes the initiative @2DB and provides these microwavable heat packs for you. I wonder if it’s something other hospitals do? Maybe it’s worth asking.

Great minds think alike @CaroleCW and @Suey - I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets funny looks in the summer and loving the cheerfulness of your vibrant oat bag.


I hope @MarjorieOrsborn.1946 that you’ve maybe had a chance to try out some of these ideas and that you’ve had an easier experience of cannulation as a result?

1 Like