Q&A: IV med infiltrated

Q: I was getting Solumedrol drip and got a big goose egg where my IV needle was inserted. Will I get benefit from the drug that went into my skin?

A:  Thank you for your question. There are several articles on the topic of IV infiltration, however, I didn’t find anything specific on this.  So here are my thoughts.

  • Infiltration is defined as the inadvertent administration of nonvesicant drugs or fluids into the subcutaneous tissue. It is the leaking of IV fluid into the tissue surrounding the vein. This occurs when IV fluids continue to be delivered even though the tip of the catheter is no longer in the vein or is blocked.The subcutaneous tissue is not a large reservoir for fluid hence when fluid/solution escapes into this area, localized swelling will result. (goose egg as you called it)
  • The medication that infiltrated was Solu-medrol, which is a non-vesicant solution, which means, in the event a non-vesicant medication infiltrates, it it will not cause tissue necrosis. (good news there)
  • The exact amount of medication that infiltrated into your subcutaneous tissue is difficult to measure so it will be hard to guess how much medication is contained there.
  •  The absorption of fluid or medication in the subcutaneous tissue is slower thus many medications are given IV (intravenously). In the event of an  IV infiltration, the reabsorption of the infiltrated fluid/mediation will be slow and with the small volume,  it is doubtful that any benefit will be gained from the infiltrated  medication.
  • While infiltration is one of the common complications of IV therapy, it can be prevented and managed if it occurs.

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