Why are drips passed into veins but not arteries?

1 Answer
Sep 27, 2016

Drips should be passed into veins and not arteries to avoid air embolism.


Air embolism is a blockage caused by one or more bubbles of air or gas in the circulatory system.
Small amounts of air often get into the blood circulation during surgery or administration of intravenous drips.

One reason why veins are preferred over arteries for intravenous administration is because the flow will pass through the lungs before passing through the body. Air bubbles can leave the blood flow through the lungs. Thus if air emboli enter the veins , they are mostly stopped at the lungs.

The risk of air embolism is more when rigid glass bottles are used for drips, where the vent tube allows air to enter the connecting tubes if the bottle is allowed to empty completely. With flexible, collapsible bottles the danger is less.

Injecting more than 100 ml of air into the venous system at rates greater than 100 ml/s can be fatal.