Medications can be given through various routes and there are many factors that determine the route of administration. Such factors include the medication, patient, desired effect, and site of action. The four most common routes of drug administration are the oral, intramuscular, subcutaneous, and intravenous routes. The oral route, which is typically swallowed by mouth, is the most popular route because it is easy, convenient, and economical. One major downside is that it cannot be used with medications that become destroyed by stomach acid in the gastrointestinal tract. Oral drugs also have slow rate of actions, which make it difficult to use in emergency situations. On the other hand, injections directly deliver the drug into circulation and are completely available to the body. Compared to oral drugs, drugs administered by injection avoid the limitations of the gastrointestinal tract, have quick onset of action, and provide localized delivery. They are also suitable for those that cannot receive oral therapy, such as unconscious or vomiting patients. Some disadvantages are the risk of infection, difficulty of reversal, and pain. These injection routes require the use of a needle and syringe. In order to prevent infections, it is especially important to clean the skin and use new, sterile syringes when using injections.
Intravenous (IV) Administration
Intravenous (“into the vein”) is the most popular injection route of administration. It can be given in a single dose by syringe or continuous infusion by IV bag. IV administration is the fastest way to deliver medications to the body. These rapid injections are necessary in emergency situations, such as seizures, asthma attacks, and cardiac arrhythmias. Drugs delivered into the vein are administered directly into the bloodstream, which mean that they are completely available to the body. As there are no barriers to absorption, drug effects are quick and short-acting. A major advantage is that large quantities of drug can be given in a relatively pain-free way. It is also the most dangerous route of administration because of its rapid effects can lead to serious toxicity. Thrombosis, hemolysis, phlebitis, and air emboli can occur if IV injections are delivered improperly.
Intramuscular (IM) Administration
Intramuscular (“into the muscle”) injection is the administration of medication directly into the muscle. Intramuscular injections are typically administered by a healthcare professional into larger skeletal muscles, which include the deltoid, vastus lateralis, and gluteus maximus. It is generally less hazardous and easier to use than the intravenous route. This route of administration allows for the drug to be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. It is especially used with medications that are administered in small volumes because administration is limited between 2 to 5 milliliters. Since muscles have larger and more blood vessels than subcutaneous tissue, IM injections have faster rates of absorption than subcutaneous injections. Needles used for IM injections are usually 1 to 1.5 inches long and 19 to 22 gauge in size. It is important to choose the proper length needle depending on the patient’s fat deposits. the medication needs to reach into muscle rather than the fat.
Subcutaneous (SC) Administration
Subcutaneous (“under the skin”) injections are administered in the subcutaneous tissue of the skin. The subcutis is the layer of skin below the dermis and epidermis. This route is especially effective when administering insulin and vaccines. It is one of the more versatile routes of administration as it can be used for short-term and long-term therapies. Common sites for SC administration are the upper arm, thigh, lower abdomen, and upper back. These sites are rotated when subcutaneous injections are given frequently. Needles used for IM injections are usually 3/8 to 1 inches long and 24 to 27 gauge in size. Most common needles are the 3/8 and 5/8 inch needle. Since there a fewer blood vessels in the subcutis, drugs have a slower and sustained rate of absorption. In order to increase absorption rates, heat, massage, or vasodilators can be applied at the site of injection. Since SC injections are limited to 2 mL, drugs administered need to be soluble and potent in small concentrations. The most common SC injections are insulin and heparin. One important advantage is that SC injections can be self-administered, which is especially important for diabetic patients that need insulin.
AccuPoint Injection Instruments is the needles, syringes, and puncture instruments division of AdvaCare Pharma USA. As an internationally-recognized and American-managed manufacturer, we supply our injection products at a global level. Made with only the highest quality materials, our extended product range includes syringes, needles, and other instruments that are suitable for all types of injections. Our products are ISO, CE, and USFDA certified.