What is an IV Piggyback?


What comes to your mind when you think of hospitals? Doctors, nurses, helpers, hurrying from one place to another carrying oxygen cylinders, stretchers, trolleys of medicines and surgical instruments and patients who are lying on the bed and are being given blood or medicine through intravenous piggy back. This equipment is a regular feature of any hospital and is an important part of their equipment to help them with everyday emergencies.  But don’t you think that we should know about the things which contribute in any measure towards saving or improving the health of man. 


What is an intravenous piggy back?

As the name suggests, IV or intravenous piggy back is an intravenous line through which medication is introduced or administered in the body of the patient through vein. This medication can be anything from diluted medicine for any disease or energy giving solution or even an antibiotic for fast recovery. The medication administered through intravenous line is always diluted with fluids which are compatible such as dextrose with saline or regular saline fluid.

The intravenous piggy back is placed in the top of the main intravenous medication or fluid. This position helps to monitor the infusion of intravenous fluid with the medication which is administered at regular interval. The main IV solution is below the piggy back infusion and is connected to the main tube through a port which is placed at the top of IV pump. This position is so arranged that whenever the need to give the infusion from piggy back arises, the IV pump will be treated as a secondary and will stop the flow of fluid from the main IV. The main IV can be restarted when the infusion of IV piggy back is finished.


What is a Heparin lock or Saline lock?

Heparin  is used as an anticoagulant in preventing blood clot formation. An IV that is being administered is always  on a main IV pole. Heparin or saline lock is an IV without the pole. You do not always need to infuse the piggy back fluid with the main IV. The lock is basically  an IV which has a chamber close to hand that is filled with either saline or heparin which provides access to the veins right away incase something needs to be injected. Heparin lock helps in  patient being mobile and need not be restricted to the bed. Heparin or Saline locks are used in low risk pregnancies which can help keep the patient mobile and they have an  instant access incase an emergency or complication occurs. The catheter can be used to administer other medications as well.


Why is the intravenous tubing flushed from time to time?

Many times different medications are to be given to the patient which are not compatible. Infusion of one piggy back fluid after a non compatible IV piggy back fluid has been used can cause precipitation in the intravenous tube which will stop the flow of the solution. So as to avoid this situation, IVs are flushed from time to time and cleaned. The process of flushing is carried out by lowering the secondary tube so that the main IV tube can be flushed and cleaned through the secondary line.

If the patient requires different medications that have to  be administered at regular intervals, different IV piggy backs are used. In serious conditions 2 or 3 IV piggy backs can be seen attached so that the medication can be given without stopping for flushing and at regular intervals.


What are the advantages of IV piggy back?

One of the greatest advantages of IV piggy back is that it saves the use of multiple syringes needed for injecting the medication. Secondly it relieves the patients from pain of having several injections at one go. Too many injections can cause sores and pain in the injected part which too is avoided through IV piggy back.

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