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What is an IV Bag?

By Pamela Pleasant
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An IV bag is a glass bottle or plastic bag that is filled with essential liquids and medications. It is used to administer these fluids directly into the body. The IV bag has a long tubing connected to it, with a hollow needle at the end of the tube. This hollow needle is placed into a vein, typically at the crease of the arm or in the hand. Therapies like this are referred to as an intravenous drip and they deliver the essential fluids into the vein.

Long sterile tubing can be seen on the bottom of the IV bag, which connects to the hollow needle. There is an attachment on this tubing that regulates how much fluid goes into the blood stream. This allows the health care professional to monitor the flow rate of the fluid and it can also stop air bubbles from entering the intravenous line. A clamp is also placed on this line, to immediately stop the flow of fluids. When the essential fluids are stopped momentarily, other medications such as antibiotics can also be administered into the blood stream.

A single intravenous line is sometimes attached to an infusion pump. This pump closely regulates the amount of fluids delivered as well as the flow rate. The infusion pump is mainly used for patients who would have serious complications if the flow rate was changed. If, however, there isn’t a chance of dangerous complications, a gravity drip is used. It is simply an IV bag with a clamp placed on the tubing and the bag is placed over the head of the patient for a natural gravity drip.

When the essential fluids have to be administered quickly, a rapid infuser is used. Typically, a plastic cuff is used to put pressure on the IV bag. This allows the fluids to be delivered faster into the blood stream. A small electrical device can also be added to the IV bag to heat up the solution, making it more effective.

There are many health risks associated with intravenous therapy. Infections can occur whenever the skin is penetrated or broken. Bacteria can enter these breaks and produce symptoms that include a high fever and swelling or redness at the entry point. If the infection enters the blood stream, it can become a life threatening situation in a matter of hours. When an air bubble or blood clot occurs while intravenous therapy is used, this is called an embolism and depending on the amount of air introduced into the veins, it can also turn into life-threatening situation.

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Discussion Comments
By anon196359 — On Jul 14, 2011

What is the iv drug in a dark bag that they call the vampire drug? My dad is taking it for his high blood pressure. he is in sicu. He had surgery on his main artery and almost bled to death due to high blood pressure.

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