The Differences Between IV and IM Treatment
In the prevention and treatment of illness and injury, medical professionals are often faced with options that affect the effectiveness of a drug or treatment. There’s a lot to consider, including the unique requirements of the patient’s condition, coupled with the specifications for the administration of each treatment. When it comes to administering substances, the route of administration is critically important.
Taking medicines, or eating, by mouth is referred to as the oral route, or “PO”. This route aside, there are others: Let’s look at intravenous (IV) injection, IV infusion, an IV push, and an intramuscular (IM) injection.
The Benefits of IV Treatment
Administration of substances by the IV route gets certain substances into the system more efficiently than any other route. The intravenous route of administration also gets nutritional or other supplements, or hydrating fluids, into a patient’s system much faster than PO or IM routes.
Another advantage of the IV route, in contrast to PO, is that it bypasses metabolism in the liver, losing little potency, and increasing bioavailability—the interface of the substance and the body. This occurs by:
- IV Injection - During an IV injection, content in a syringe is forced through a hollow needle that’s been inserted into a blood vessel. An IV treatment gets into the bloodstream immediately. The process is fast, usually just several seconds.
- IV Infusion - During an infusion, a catheter is placed in a patient’s vein with the assistance of a needle. The needle is removed. The IV line connects a drip bag to the catheter, which flows, or is controlled by a pump, into the patient’s bloodstream. The rate of administration can be controlled precisely either way, or stopped if the patient reacts to the treatment. Unlike an injection, IV infusion occurs over minutes to hours.
- IV Push - An IV push involves a needle placed into a patient’s vein, while a tube connects to a syringe containing the treatment. Unlike an IV infusion, an IV push is administered by the practitioner. Because the needle is safely secured to the patient, the substance enters the patient’s bloodstream more slowly than an IV injection, but much more rapidly than an IV infusion.The advantage of an IV push is that the patient can be closely observed as the substance enters the person’s system.
All types of intravenous injection share the benefit of getting certain substances into the system more efficiently than by the oral route. Sometimes people are unable to achieve adequate intake of certain substances, either because of impaired swallowing, or gastrointestinal issues that prevent proper absorption.
Like IV injections, intramuscular (IM) injection gets into a person’s system rapidly. IM also shares IV’s ability to bypass the digestive system. Unlike an IV injection, intramuscular injection uses a needle placed into muscle tissue instead of a vein. Injection into muscle tissue will get into systemic blood flow more slowly than an IV injection, but more rapidly than oral administration.
IM and IV injections are given over 16 billion times a year, in the U.S. alone. They are effective and typically safe.
Cafasso, J. (2019, March 8). Intramuscular injection: Definition and patient education. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/intramuscular-injection.
Jin, J.-F., Zhu, L.-L., Chen, M., Xu, H.-M., Wang, H.-F., & Feng, X.-Q. (2015, July 2). The optimal choice of medication administration route regarding intravenous, intramuscular, and subcutaneous injection. Patient preference and adherence. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494621/.