A winged infusion set—also known as “butterfly” or “scalp vein” set—is a device specialized for venipuncture: i.e. for accessing a superficial vein for either intravenous injection or phlebotomy. It consists, from front to rear, of a hypodermic needle, two bilateral flexible “wings”, flexible small-bore transparent tubing (often 20_35 cm long), and lastly a connector (often female Luer). This connector attaches to another device: e.g. syringe, vacuum tube holder/hub, or extension tubing from an infusion pump or gravity-fed infusion / transfusion bag/bottle.
During venipuncture, the butterfly is held by its wings between thumb and index finger. This grasp very close to the needle facilitates precise placement. The needle is generally inserted toward the vein at a shallow angle, made possible by the set’s design. When the needle enters the vein, venous blood pressure generally forces a small amount of blood into the set’s transparent tubing providing a visual sign, called the “flash” or “flashback”, that lets the practitioner know that the needle is actually inside of a vein.
The butterfly offers advantages over a simple straight needle. The butterfly’s flexible tubing reaches more body surface and tolerates more patient movement. The butterfly’s precise placement facilitates venipuncture of thin, “rolling”, fragile, or otherwise poorly accessible veins. The butterfly’s shallow-angle insertion design facilitates venipuncture of very superficial veins, e.g. hand, wrist, or scalp veins (hence name “scalp vein” set).