Using Poiseuille’s law and standardized gauge sizes, an 18-gauge (g) intravenous catheter (IV) should be 2.5 times faster than a 20-g IV, but this is not borne out by observation, in vitro testing, and manufacturer’s data. A nice simple study on normal volunteers compared simultaneous flow rates between a single 18G iv in one arm with two 20G ivs in the other arm. The two smaller ones provided significantly faster flow than the single larger one, although flow rates were slower than manufacturer’s estimates. This is in keeping with this other study on cannula flow rates.
Are 2 smaller intravenous catheters as good as 1 larger intravenous catheter?
Am J Emerg Med. 2010 Jul;28(6):724-7