Science Questions

Why do doctors remove air from syringes?

Sun, 20th Apr 2008

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Houses of the Future


Steve, Lowestoft asked:

When you are given an injection why is the doctor or nurse very careful to make sure there is no air in the barrel of the syringe? Because when you cut yourself it doesn’t matter, there’s air all around the wound.


The answer is this is good practice because if you’re putting injections into say, a vein and you were to inject a bit of air you’d get what is known as an air embolus.  The air bubble would float along the vein back to the heart; it would go through the right side of your heart and into your lungs and it would lodge in a blood vessel, which is a bit smaller than it is.  The result is that blood would then be stuck behind this bubble of air.  You’d have to wait for the bubble to slowly be absorbed back into the blood stream.  Probably pretty trivial if you just have one-off injections but if you have a lot of injections this could actually compromise the circulation through the blood.

The other point is if you’re having an injection into a muscle it’s pretty painful and the more volume you inject the more painful it is. If you inject a volume of air as well as injection material you’re just going to make the experience even more unpleasant so we try and avoid that where possible.


Subscribe Free

Related Content

Not working please enable javascript
Powered by UKfast
Genetics Society