Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Glossary of Terms
Cannula:
A hollow tube made of silastic, rubber, plastic, metal or other substance used for accessing the body (INS, 2000).
 
Central Vascular Access Device (CVAD):
Catheter inserted into a centrally located vein with the tip residing in the vena cava; permits intermittent or continuous infusion and/or access into the venous system (INS, 2000).
 
Delivery System:
A product that allows for the administration of intravenous solutions.
The system can be integral or can have component parts, and includes all products used in the administration, from the solution container to the catheter (INS, 2000).
 
Extravasation:
Inadvertent infiltration of vesicant solution or medication into surrounding tissue; rated by a standard scale (INS, 2000).
 
Hypertonic Solution:
A solution of higher osmotic concentration than that of a reference solution or of an isotonic solution; having a concentration greater than the normal tonicity of plasma (INS, 2000). Hypertonic solutions have a concentration greater than 350 mOsm/L (CINA, 1999)
 
Hypodermoclysis:
The subcutaneous infusion of fluids (Sasson & Shvartzman, 2001).
 
Hypotonic Solutions:
A solution of lower osmotic concentration than that of a reference solution or of an isotonic solution; having a concentration less than the normal tonicity of plasma (INS, 2000). Hypotonic solutions have a concentration less than 250 mOsm/L (CINA, 1999).
 
Implanted Port:
A catheter surgically placed into a vessel or body cavity and attached to a reservoir located under the skin (INS, 2000).
 
Infection:
Presence and growth of a pathogenic microorganism (INS, 2000).
 
Infiltration:
Inadvertent administration of a non-vesicant solution or medication into surrounding tissue; rated by a standard scale (INS, 2000).
 
Infusate:
Parenteral solution administered into the vascular or nonvascular systems (INS, 2000).
 
Irritant:
An agent which can cause aching, tightness and phlebitis at the injection site or along the vein, with or without inflammatory reaction.
 
Isotonic Solution:
Having the same osmotic concentration as the solution with which it is compared, i.e., plasma (INS, 2000). Isotonic (or iso-osmotic) solutions have an osmolality equivalent to plasma, 240 - 340 mOsm/L (CINA, 1999).
 
Midline Catheter:
A peripheral catheter between 3 – 8 inches (7.5 – 20 cm) long; inserted within 1.5 inches (3.75 cm) above or below the antecubital fossa. The catheter tip ends in the peripheral vasculature below the axilla (Halderman, 2000).
 
Non-vesicant:
An agent devoid of significant vesicant or irritant effects.
 
Osmolality:
The characteristic of a solution determined by the concentration of the dissolved substance per unit of solvent; measured in milliosmoles/kilogram. This value can be calculated using sodium chloride equivalents or determined experimentally by osmometry (Stranz, 2002).
 
Parenteral:
A substance administered by any route other than the alimentary canal, such as the intravenous, subcutaneous, or intramuscular route (INS, 2000).
 
Percutaneous Non-tunneled Catheter:
A large-diameter catheter, often with multiple lumens, inserted percutaneously through the subclavian, jugular, or femoral vein, with the tip in the vena cava (Halderman, 2000).
 
Peripheral Vascular Access Device (PVAD):
A peripheral catheter 3 inches (7.5 cm) or less in length, generally inserted in the upper extremity.
 
Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC):
A soft, flexible central venous catheter inserted into a peripheral vein and advanced until the tip is positioned in the vena cava (INS, 2000).
 
pH:
The degree of acidity or alkalinity of a substance (INS, 2000). This value denotes the number of hydrogen ions present in the solution. www.rnao.org/intravenous/activities/mod1_p10_a1.asp
 
Phlebitis:
Inflammation of a vein; may be accompanied by pain, erythema, edema, streak formation, palpable cord; rated by a standard scale (INS, 2000). To view standard scale, click here.
 
Thrombosis:
Formation, development, or existence of a blood clot within the vascular system (INS, 2000).
 
Tunneled Catheter:
A vascular access device whose proximal end is tunneled subcutaneously from the insertion site and brought out through the skin at an exit site (INS, 2000).
 
Vascular Access Device (VAD):
A device used to access the vascular system, which can terminate in the peripheral or central vasculature.
 
Vesicant:
Agent capable of causing tissue necrosis when it escapes from the intended vascular pathway into surrounding tissue (INS, 2000).