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Intravenous drips help medical professionals deliver medications and other important fluids into a patient’s body. The devices are typically inserted into veins, thus the name intravenous therapy or IV therapy. Intravenous drips come in two major varieties: central and peripheral. Methods of distribution for IV drips include infusion pumps, needles, and catheters.
General classifications of IV drip lines consist of central IV lines or peripheral IV lines. The former type injects intravenous fluids into large veins such as the ones found in the chest or stomach, whereas peripheral lines are pushed into smaller arteries like those found along the surface of the skin. Major lines are generally used when substances must reach the heart quickly, when multiple substances must be delivered, or when substances are deemed too harsh for minor veins. Peripheral lines, on the other hand, are generally easier to implement and carry a smaller risk of infection or bleeding.
Types of intravenous drip and vein connections vary as well. Hypodermic needles represent one common type of object for helping create intravenous drips. These needles are long, narrow, and hollow, and they are usually inserted into the arm. They may be connected to a syringe that contains the actual intravenous solution. The needles may also attach to tubes that in turn connect to an IV drip machine.
IV drip tubes are typically called catheters. They may be affixed to a major vein and run through the body until they reach one of the primary heart veins. In contrast, when the drip is connected to a Hickman line, the catheter runs just underneath the skin. One type frequently used in hospitals is the peripheral cannula, in which a bendable plastic catheter is secured to a piece of metal that is disposed of once the tube has been inserted.
Physicians may also occasionally place a miniature medicine storage system inside the skin. This small system connects to an intravenous line. Medicine is then pumped into the system through a needle.
For most drips, however, outside infusion pumps are used as the fluid storage devices. These sanitized containers, usually bags, release fluid in singular drops. They also contain tubes and clamps to regulate flow. In some cases, a device called a rapid infuser circles and squeezes the container so that the flow rate of the IV substance is increased. Some conditions, however, necessitate that intravenous drips only administer medication at specific time intervals. Systems using this form of administration are known as intermittent infusion IV drips.