Pharmacology: Parental Drug Routes

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Posted on 28th February 2011 by admin in Uncategorized

Medications can be administered in many ways.  The parenteral route allows medications to be injected into the patient using a syringe.  There are four types of parenteral routes that are commonly used.  These routes are intradermal, subcutaneous, intramuscular, and intravenous.

A medical prescriber will choose a specific parenteral route based on several factors, such as the type of medication, how quickly the therapeutic effect is desired, and the patient’s needs.  Medications that are injected intravenously can have a faster therapeutic effect than the other parenteral routes.  A pharmacologist will take this into consideration when planning medications.

Intradermal injections are administered in hairless areas of the body.  Most often these injections are given on lightly pigmented and thinly keratinized areas of the skin such as the upper chest, medial thigh sites, and inner aspect of the forearm or scapular area of the back.  Using these injection sites allows the nurse to observe any reaction to the injected medication.

Intradermal injections do not enter the bloodstream.  These types of injections are meant to provide a localized effect on a specific area and often cause a blister to appear at the injection site.  The test for TB is an example of an intradermal injection.

Subcutaneous injections are best suited for administering medications that need to be slowly absorbed into the body to produce a sustained effect.  The types of medications that are administered subcutaneously are absorbed through the capillaries.  This route is much slower compared to intramuscular and intravenous routes.  Insulin and heparin are two medications that are administered via subcutaneous injections.

Intramuscular injections provide rapid absorption in to the body.  The rate of absorption depends on a patient’s circulatory state.  Most intramuscular injections are administered on the hip, buttocks, upper arm or front of the thigh.

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