Choosing a Near-Infrared Vein Finder

June 20, 2018 | Evaluations & Guidance


Near-infrared (NIR) vein finders noninvasively identify veins that can be used for vascular access procedures, such as collecting blood samples and preparing for IV administration of medication. The devices can be used in all patient care areas where vascular access procedures are performed, and they can be used for all patients, particularly those in whom it is difficult to establish IV access, such as neonatal, pediatric, elderly, morbidly obese, dark-skinned, or diabetic patients (Chiao et al. 2013). NIR vein finders augment, but do not replace, the established conventional methods—visualization and palpation—for identifying viable veins for vascular access.

NIR vein finders use NIR light, which is invisible. NIR light penetrates deeper into tissues than visible light and is absorbed differently by venous blood than by surrounding soft tissue. The device directs NIR light into the patient and collects the light that is reflected, which enables the device to display an image of the veins. The image allows clinicians to localize veins that cannot be identified using conventional techniques. The device also allows clinicians to assess veins—both those that can be identified using conventional methods and those that cannot—to determine their suitability for vascular access. ECRI Institute has evaluated NIR vein finders; a list of these models and their ratings can be found in our Evaluation Background.

Clinical adoption of NIR vein finders is expanding as a result of the need for healthcare facilities to improve patient satisfaction, enhance workflow, and meet clinical standards. For example, the Infusion Nurses Society's 2016 Infusion Therapy Standards of Practice recommend that clinicians consider the use of NIR vein finder technology as an aid to help locate superficial peripheral venous access sites, decrease procedure time, enhance assessment of vessel morphology such as bifurcations and tortuosity, and identify palpable but nonvisible veins (Gorski et al. 2016).

Along with shorter procedure times and increased patient satisfaction, potential benefits of using NIR vein finders include:

  1. Fewer venipuncture attempts...

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