Infusing Health: The Most Common IV Infusion Procedures

By: Sue Carrington |

Quick read:

Intravenous (IV) infusions are a common way to absorb medicine, fluid and nutrients into your system quickly. A thin plastic tube called a catheter is placed in the vein and connects to an IV bag containing fluids. The most common uses of IVs are delivering medicine, blood transfusions and rehydration.

Full story

If you or a loved one has ever been hospitalized, an intravenous (IV) infusion was probably part of your treatment. This is a procedure that administers medicines, fluids, or nutrients directly into your body through a vein, enabling faster absorption into your bloodstream. It’s often used when you can’t be treated sufficiently by oral medications.

How it’s done

Through the IV infusion, an IV catheter—a thin plastic tube—is inserted into a vein and left in place. The catheter can be connected to a long piece of plastic hollow tubing leading to an IV bag, which contains medications, fluids, or nutrients. The most common sites are veins in the hands or arms.

IV infusions are typically delivered through an infusion pump. The pump is programmed to dispense the contents of the IV bag over a defined timeframe. This way, multiple doses can be administered without re-inserting a needle each time.

What it’s used for

Many medications, fluids, and nutrients can be delivered by IV, but the most common infusion procedures are medication administration, blood transfusions, and dehydration.

Medication administration

IV infusions are used to administer medications in treating a host of diseases, such as cancer, heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

Many medications can be given by IV, such as anesthetics, antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and medications to control pain, regulate heart rate and blood pressure. IV infusions also enable rapid administering of drugs in emergencies, such as a stroke or heart attack, when taking medication orally may not get drugs into the bloodstream fast enough.

Blood transfusions

Blood transfusion is the process of receiving blood or blood products intravenously. Transfusions are used to restore lost blood, improve clotting time, and enhance blood’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Rehydration

Dehydration happens quickly and can lead to serious, life-threatening complications. It can be caused by a variety of factors, from a decreased consumption of water to excessive exercise and extreme temperatures.

Rehydration is used to treat moderate to severe dehydration. Fluids are injected into your body through an IV, typically consisting of water with a little bit of salt or sugar added.

Other frequent IV infusion procedures include parenteral nutrition, iron infusion and providing necessary nutrients.

Why it matters

IV infusions offer many benefits in relieving chronic diseases, boosting the immune system, and infusing health and well-being. The therapeutic benefits of medications, fluids, and nutrients are realized immediately without waiting for them to travel through your digestive system. Doses can be readily monitored and controlled. Typically, administration is pain-free. The procedure also helps remove toxins from the body, accelerating the healing process.