Needles are a painful yet necessary part of medical treatment. They are used to either extract some kind of fluid from our body, or to administer some kind of drug into our body. During this process, the skin is punctured and that’s why, the process can be quite unpleasant to many. In order to avoid these discomforts and for the sake of performing some specific tasks that are too big to be done by a regular needle, butterfly needles are used.
What are Butterfly Needles?
Butterfly needles, also called “butterflies,” are hollow tubes with a long narrow tube inside of them and ends upright, like the caterpillar’s thorax. The tube is designed so that as the needle moves through the body it can puncture a very tiny amount of skin without causing any damage. The tube itself is very thin, about one to three millimeters, so the needle’s exit hole is very small and tiny, too. A butterfly needle is used most often for administering fluids from the lungs, such as blood, because of its small size.
Types and Uses of Butterfly Needles
There are several types of butterfly needles, but the most common use is for venipuncture (the insertion of a venous force into a smaller blood vessel, such as a pulmonary artery). It was probably invented in Great Britain in the 19th century, but the concept was not popular in the United States until much later. It was used primarily for catheterization of the lungs (a procedure that required making small punctures into a lung through a very small hole) and did produce some medical benefit but was largely considered a useless and dangerous procedure.
However, recent years have seen a new appreciation for the usefulness of the butterfly needle. More physicians are discovering that the small tube design makes it a superior choice for many applications. A butterfly needle can be used for inserting an ultrasound probe directly into the blood vessel, for example. Because there is no need to make large punctures through the tissue, the tube stays relatively intact, thus avoiding damage.
Another example is a venapro probe, a kind of ultrasound gadget that generates ultrasound waves in the direction of a particular vein. In this case, the butterfly needle is used to direct these waves along the length of the vein, stimulating the cells along its path and causing them to break free from the walls of the vein and flow with greater speed and ease. The results of such procedures as venapro treatment can often be life-saving. At the same time, the process of inserting the probe can be quite painful for patients who are unable to stand or walk. In this case, the butterfly needle is a far superior alternative.
Another example of their use comes from the use of a “sclerosant” to treat varicose veins. Sclerosants work by irritating the surface of a vein so that it swollen and contracts rapidly. This causes a visible thickening on the skin where the sclerosant has been applied. In this instance, the butterfly needle is especially useful as the small, flexible needles can easily be inserted into even the smallest sclerosant vials. These syringes are then placed into the vessels, causing them to contract as they do so.
As a general rule, larger quantities of blood will require larger doses of any medication. In the case of a venapro treatment, this means that the butterfly needle must be large enough to allow a vein or the entire vein to be punctured before injecting a sufficient volume of medicine. In addition to this, an IV will often be required to position the syringe in such a way that it can inject the required amount of medicine into the body.
People who have hard to find veins can benefit quite a lot from the use of butterfly needles.They can inject the required drugs into the specific veins without causing much puncture or damage to the vein. Use of straight needles will make this quite a difficult task to complete.
Limitations of the Use of Butterfly Needles
Although it may seem like the butterfly needles are the answer to every medical need, there are some tasks that the butterfly needle can not complete. The main problems with the butterfly needle comes down to its small size and the precision required to safely inject this needle.
The size of the butterfly needle often tends to be small for it to be able to pierce through the skin without any damage. But one downside to this small size is that while drawing blood, the size can be a little bit too small to fit enough blood. In this case, one might need to endure more than one draw to collect enough blood.
Also, the blood collection process, when done by using a butterfly needle tends to be very slow. This might present itself as a problem when a quick draw of blood is needed for emergency purposes. In some cases, the slow speed of the blood drawing may even jeopardize a patient’s life.
Additionally, there are risks of vein damage and needle blockage if the process is not done correctly. Yanking the needle too swiftly might be the cause of vein damage. Therefore those who operate with the needle should be extra careful. The risk of needle blockage presents itself when the correct size of needle is not used.
Because of these limitations, not all patients are suited for blood draw with the use of a butterfly needle. Patients who tend to make a lot of movement during the injection process are better suited for normal needles. Patients who are having a seizure or small kids are examples of such kinds of patients. Their movement might cause the needle to get inserted in a wrong place, which can be quite dangerous.
If used well, butterfly needles can be quite an effective medical device and in some cases their use is unavoidable. As long as the necessary precautions are taken, the use f this needle is not dangerous.