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Intravenous therapy or IV therapy is the giving of substances directly into a vein.

The word
intravenous simply means "within a vein". Therapies administered intravenously are often
called specialty pharmaceuticals. It is commonly referred to as a drip because many systems of
administration employ a drip chamber, which prevents air entering the blood stream (air
embolism) and allows an estimate of flow rate.
Intravenous therapy may be used to correct electrolyte imbalances, to deliver medications, for
blood transfusion or as fluid replacement to correct, for example, dehydration.
Compared with other routes of administration, the
intravenous route is the fastest way to deliver
fluids and medications throughout the body.
Infused substances
Substances that may be infused intravenously
include volume expanders, blood-based products,
blood substitutes, medications
Volume expanders
There are two main types of volume expander;
crystalloids and colloids. Crystalloids are aqueous
solutions of mineral salts or other water-soluble
molecules. Colloids contain larger insoluble
molecules, such as gelatin. Blood is a colloid.
Colloids preserve a high colloid osmotic pressure in
the blood, while, on the other hand, this parameter is
decreased by crystalloids due to hemodilution.
However, there is still controversy with regards to the actual difference in efficacy between colloids
and crystalloids.Crystalloids generally are much cheaper than colloids.

The most commonly used crystalloid fluid is normal saline, a solution of sodium chloride at 0.9%
concentration, which is close to the concentration in the blood (isotonic). Ringer's lactate or Ringer's
acetate is another isotonic solution often used for large-volume fluid replacement
Blood-based products
A blood product (or blood-based product) is any component of the blood which is collected from
a donor for use in a blood transfusion. Blood transfusions can be life-saving in some situations,
such as massive blood loss due to trauma, or can be used to replace blood lost during surgery.
Blood transfusions may also be used to treat a severe anaemia or thrombocytopenia caused by a
blood disease. People suffering from hemophilia usually need clotting factor replacement which
is a small part of whole blood and people with sickle-cell disease may require frequent blood
transfusions. Early transfusions used whole blood, but modern medical practice commonly uses
only components of the blood, such as fresh frozen plasma or cryoprecipitate.
Blood substitutes
Blood substitutes (also called artificial blood or blood surrogates) are artificial substances
aiming to provide an alternative to blood-based products acquired from donors.
The main blood substitutes used today are volume expanders such as crystalloids and colloids
mentioned above. Also, oxygen-carrying substitutes are emerging.
Buffer solutions
Buffer solutions are used to correct acidosis or alkalosis. Lactated Ringer's solution also has
some buffering effect. A solution more specifically used for buffering purpose is intravenous
sodium bicarbonate.
Other medications
Medications may be mixed into the fluids mentioned above. Certain types of medications can
only be given intravenously, such as when there is insufficient uptake enterally, transdermally or
transmucosally. Examples include intravenous immunoglobulin and propofol.
Other
Parenteral nutrition is feeding a person intravenously, bypassing the usual process of eating and
digestion. The person receives nutritional formulas containing salts, glucose, amino acids, lipids and
added vitamins.
Drug injection used for recreational substances usually enters by the intravenous route.