IV Terms and Definitions

Like all medical fields, IV related therapies have their own language. These are just a few of the common terms and abbreviations you may encounter in dealing with various types of intravenous therapy and the injuries that can result. Please call our Augusta, Georgia, lawyers toll free at 800-569-1937 for more information.

  • Air embolism — obstruction of the circulation system by air that has gained entrance to veins
  • Anastomosis — surgical formation of a passage between two blood vessels
  • Anoxic — suffering from a reduced supply of oxygen
  • Aseptic preparation — a procedure designed to preclude contamination by microorganisms
  • Aseptic technique — a mechanism employed to reduce potential contamination
  • Aspirate — to draw by suction. Typically performed prior to injection by drawing blood through a syringe
  • Artery — a vessel that carries blood from the heart through the body
  • Blanching — occurs when the skin takes on a whitish appearance as blood flow to the region is prevented. Can be indicative of IV extravasation-
  • Bolus — a dose of a substance (such as a drug) given intravenously; specifically, a large dose given for the purpose of rapidly achieving the needed therapeutic concentration in the bloodstream (sometimes referred to as "IV push")
  • CI — continuous infusion
  • Cannula — a flexible tube containing a needle which may be inserted into a blood vessel. The caliber or cannula is indicated in gauge, with 14 being a very large cannula and 24-26 the smallest. The most common sizes are 16-gauge (midsize line used for blood donation and transfusion) and 18- and 20-gauge (all-purpose line for infusions and blood draws).
  • Cannulae, ported — Ported cannulae have an injection port on the top for administering medicine.
  • Catheter — a tubular medical device for insertion into vessels to permit injection or withdrawal of fluids. The part of the catheter that remains outside the skin is called the connecting hub.
  • Cellulitis — a skin infection caused by bacteria
  • Central IV line — flows through a catheter with its tip within a large vein
  • Central Vascular Access Device (CVAD) — a catheter inserted into a centrally located vein where the tip resides in the vena cava and permits either intermittent or continuous infusion or access to the venous system-
  • Colloids — fluids which contain larger insoluble molecules, such as gelatin, used in IV drips
  • Compartment syndrome — a painful condition resulting from the expansion or overgrowth of enclosed tissue within its anatomical enclosure producing pressure that interferes with circulation and adversely affects the function and health of the tissue itself. It can be caused by IV infiltration/extravasation and can result in nerve damage and/or amputation. The condition often requires a fasciotomy to relieve the pressure.
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome — CRPS is a chronic pain condition that is believed to be the result of dysfunction in the central or peripheral nervous systems. Typical features include dramatic changes in the color and temperature of the skin over the affected limb or body part, accompanied by intense burning pain, skin sensitivity, sweating, and swelling. CRPS is frequently triggered by tissue injury.
  • Conscious sedation — minimally depressed level of consciousness where the patient retains the ability to breathe independently and respond appropriately to physical stimulation and/or verbal commands
  • Crystalloids — aqueous solutions of mineral salts or other water-soluble molecules, such as normal saline, used for IV drips
  • D5NS — an IV crystalloid solution of 5-percent dextrose, normal saline.
  • Debridement — the surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated tissue. Often required in the treatment of burn injuries.
  • Delivery system — system that allows for the administration of medication
  • Disinfectant — an agent that eliminates all microorganisms except spores
  • Dose Error Reduction System (DERS) — electronic flow-controlled devices manufactured with internal drug libraries which include the drug name as well as the infusion limits and are designed to prevent errors in the makeup and delivery of medication. These are sometimes referred to as "smart pumps"
  • Drip chamber — part of IV equipment designed to assist with rate of flow and help prevent air from entering the blood stream when administering IV therapy
  • EMG — Electromyography, involves testing the electrical activity of muscles. Often, EMG testing is performed with another test that measures the conducting function of nerves
  • Edema — an abnormal excess accumulation of serous fluid in connective tissue or in a serious cavity causing swelling
  • Electrolyte imbalance — caused when a too-dilute or too-concentrated solution is administered; can disrupt the patient's balance of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and other electrolytes
  • Electronic Infusion Device (EID) — an electronic device designed to regulate the infusion rate of medications. EIDs may regulate flow rate of either positive-pressure pumps or gravity fed delivery systems.
  • Embolism — the obstruction of a blood vessel by a foreign substance such as a blood clot or an air bubble
  • Embolus — mass of undissolved matter present in either the blood or lymphatic vessels
  • Encephalopathy — a disease of the brain
  • Epithelialization — the re-growth of skin over a wound
  • Epithelialized — grown over with epithelial cells. Typically used in reference to a wound or catheter site.
  • Erythema — redness of skin along a vein resulting from vascular irritation. May indicate the presence of phlebitis
  • Extravasation — the infiltration of caustic vesicant medications, insert medication list as site map link either by leakage or directly, into the tissues surrounding an IV site causing damage to these tissues
  • Fasciotomy — a surgical procedure that cuts away the fascia (thin connective tissue covering, or separating, the muscles and internal organs of the body) to relieve tension or pressure
  • Flow-Control Device — an instrument used to regulate the flow rate of infusing medications and/or fluids (e.g., slide, roller clamp, etc.)
  • Fluid overload — occurs when fluids are given at a higher rate or in a larger volume than the system can absorb or excrete
  • Fluoroscopy — the method that provides real-time x ray imaging that is especially useful for guiding a variety of diagnostic and intervention procedures
  • Gravity drip — the method of IV infusion which simply places the bag above the level of the patient and uses a clamp or roller to regulate the rate
  • Hematoma — -a mass of usually clotted blood that forms in a tissue, organ, or body space as a result of a broken blood vessel
  • Hemostasis — -bleeding
  • Hypertonic — some fluids are equal to blood in concentration, some more and some less. Hypertonic solutions are more-
  • Hypotonic — some fluids are equal to blood in concentration, some more and some less. Hypotonic solutions are less-
  • Implanted Port — a catheter surgically inserted into a vessel, organ or other part of the body and attached to a reservoir located under the skin
  • Implanted Pump — a catheter surgically inserted into a vessel, organ or other part of the body and attached to a reservoir located under the skin that contains a pumping mechanism for the continuous administration of medication
  • Infection — the presence and growth of a pathogenic microorganism
  • Inflatable cuff — apparatus placed around the fluid bag to force the fluid into the patient at a higher flow rate
  • Informed consent — a person's voluntary agreement, based upon adequate knowledge and understanding of relevant information, to participate in or undergo a diagnostic, therapeutic, operative, preventative or other medical procedure
  • Intermittent infusion — used when a patient requires medications only at certain times and does not require additional fluid
  • Intermittent intravenous therapy — the administration of medication at prescribed intervals with periods of infusion cessation
  • Intravenous — within a vein
  • Intravenous drip — the continuous infusion of fluids, with or without medications, through an IV
  • Intrinsic contamination — contamination that occurs during the manufacturing process of a medication or other product
  • Infiltration — the inadvertent administration of nonvesicant medication or fluid by IV into the surrounding tissue instead of into the intended vascular pathway
  • Infusion — the introducing of a solution into a vein
  • -Infusion pump — a machine used to control the flow rate and total amount of medication and/or fluids delivered by IV
  • Irritant — an agent which produces discomfort or pain at a venipuncture site or along the lumen of a vein or other parts of the body
  • Isotonic — some fluids are equal to blood in concentration, some more and some less. Isotonic solutions are equal-
  • IV — an apparatus used to administer fluids, medication and other solutions -intravenously
  • IV push — a dose of a substance (such as a drug) given intravenously; specifically a large dose given for the purpose of rapidly achieving the needed therapeutic concentration in the bloodstream (also referred to as "bolus")
  • Latex precautions — steps taken to prevent or reduce reactions caused by latex allergy
  • Lumen — the interior space of a tubular structure such as a vein, capillary, artery or other blood vessel
  • Manual flow-control device — a manually operated device designed to control the flow rate of an infusing medication or fluid
  • Manufactured stabilization device — a device designed to secure a catheter at the point where the catheter and skin meet
  • Medline catheter (ML) — a flexible catheter measuring 3.1 to 8 inches long with the distal tip dwelling in the basilic, cephalic, or brachial vein
  • Necrosis — death of living tissue
  • Neonate — referring to the first four weeks of life
  • Neuroma — a tumor or mass growing from a nerve and usually consisting of nerve fibers
  • Neurologist — a physician skilled in the diagnosis and treatment of disease of the nervous system
  • Non-tunneled catheter — a vascular or nonvascular access device inserted directly through the skin and into the intended location without passing through the subcutaneous tissues of the body
  • Nonvesicant — an intravenous medication that generally does not cause tissue damage or necrosis
  • Normal saline — a solution of sodium chloride at 0.9-percent concentration, which is close to the concentration in the blood.
  • Occluded — a blockage, clot formation or other anatomic compression which suppresses blood flow
  • PAD — Peripheral Access Device
  • Pathogen — a microorganism or other substance capable of producing disease
  • Percutaneous — a technique performed through the skin
  • Peripheral — pertaining to or situated away from the center
  • Peripheral vein — peripheral veins are located away from the central part of the body, such as in your hands or arms
  • Phlebitis — inflammation of a vein that may be caused by infection, the mere presence of a foreign body (the IV catheter), or the fluids or medication being given. Symptoms generally include warmth, swelling, pain, and redness around the vein.
  • Phlebotomist — -a qualified technician trained to draw blood
  • Phlebotomy — the withdrawal of blood from a vein
  • PICC — Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter — typically utilized when intravenous access is required over a prolonged period of time
  • Piggybacking — the use of connector(s) to allow another infusion set onto the same line, e.g., adding a dose of antibiotics to a continuous fluid drip
  • Port — often referred to by names such as Port-a-cath or Mediport, it is a central venous line that does not have an external connector; it has a small reservoir that is covered with silicone rubber and implanted under the skin.
  • Positive pressure — constant force within a catheter lumen that prevents the reflux of blood
  • RSD — Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Ringer's lactate — an isotonic solution often used for large-volume fluid replacement
  • Risk management — the process that centers on the identification, analysis, treatment and evaluation of real and potential hazards
  • Sclerosis — the thickening and hardening of the interior walls of a blood vessel
  • Sepsis — the presence of infectious microorganisms or related toxins in the blood stream
  • Single-use vial — a medication bottle that is hermetically sealed with a rubber stopper and intended for one-time use only
  • Skin graft — piece of skin often taken from a donor area or another source and used to replace skin in a defective or denuded area. Skin grafts can be required in the treatment of burns caused by IV extravasation
  • Standard — an authoritative statement issued by a certain profession by which the quality of practice, service or education can be measured
  • Sterile — an environment free from living organisms
  • Stylet — a rigid metal object within a catheter that is designed to facilitate its insertion
  • Subcutaneous infusion — the administration (infusion) of medications into the tissues which lie beneath the skin
  • Superficial — located near the surface
  • Thromboembolism — a condition in which a blood clot forms in a vein that is deep inside the body-
  • Thrombolytic agent — a pharmacological agent capable of dissolving blood clots (i.e., heparin)
  • Thrombophlebitis — inflammation or irritation of a vein in connection with the formation of a blood clot
  • Thrombosis — the formation or existence of blood clots within the vascular system
  • Thrombus — a blood clot in a blood vessel or within the heart.
  • Transparent semipermeable membrane (TSM) — a sterile, air-permeable, water resistant dressing that permits visual inspection of the skin's surface beneath it
  • Tunneled catheter — vascular access device (VAD) which tunnels subcutaneously from the insertion site and is brought out through the skin at an exit point
  • Ulceration — the formation of a break on the skin or on the surface of an organ-
  • Vascular Access Device (VAD) — catheters, tubes or other devices inserted into the body for the purpose of obtaining access to the vascular system including veins, arteries, etc
  • Vein — a vessel that carries blood toward the heart
  • Venipuncture — surgical puncture of a vein especially for the withdrawal of blood or for intravenous medication
  • Vesicant — highly reactive chemical agents which can cause tissue necrosis and damage. These chemicals can cause serious tissue damage when allowed to infiltrate into the tissues surrounding an IV site, a process known as extravasation.
  • Wound VAC — the wound vacuum is a device that uses negative pressure to promote healing in an open area. It is used by forming an airtight seal over the area and "sucking" all the drainage out and pulling new tissue to the top. Commonly used to assist with wound care and closure.

If you or someone you know has suffered injury because of IV infiltration, extravasation or other IV therapy, contact our IV injury lawyers at Burnside Law Firm LLP for a free initial consultation or call our Augusta, Georgia, attorneys toll free at 800-569-1937.

If you suspect medical negligence, do not hesitate to contact our Augusta, Georgia, lawyer. We offer experienced, strategic advocacy in cases involving IV infiltration and IV injury. Call 800-569-1937 or contact us by e-mail for an initial consultation.