Do transilluminators work on dark skin or obese adults where you


can't necessarily feel or see a vein?

Would like to know if it's worth it to invest in one for those "difficult sticks."


122 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg.

I've found them near worthless most of the time. Not worth the money IMO.


76 Posts

Has 15 years experience.

I have also found them basically worthless. I don't even think they work on light skin or any skin for that matter.


310 Posts

I think they are only useful on neonates.


951 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Critical Care. Has 17 years experience.

Good to know. I was wondering the same thing when my staff asked me to start two difficult patients yesterday (one I got; one I didn't). I got the dark skinned individual but the other obese patient who had very very thick skin (his family even commented on his "alligator hide") I missed. He didn't even bleed when I stuck him, his skin was so thick.

iluvivt, BSN, RN

2,773 Posts

Specializes in Infusion Nursing, Home Health Infusion. Has 32 years experience.

They work well with neonates to locate a vein but you still need the skill to access and thread the catheter. Not so useful in the adult population. On dark-skinned individuals you sometimes have to be patient and find a vein by palpation. alot of times they are there,just not visible. Sometimes they can be extremely difficult to find and this is a situation where you can call an IV nurse (if available) to access with Ultrasound or place a PICC.

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