For many, the sight or even the thought of a syringe with a needle fills them with dread, but for lots of people, they may have to encounter them on a regular basis to administer prescribed medication. There are a lot of things to consider and knowledge that will be required when purchasing needles and syringes for medical administration. There are many different types and designs to meet different purposes and we hope that this guide will help you to understand more about your requirements.
There are several things to consider and it is essential you know what you need in order to safely and correctly administer injections. Here is a list of helpful criteria:
Syringes will either be Luer Lock or Non Luer Lock. Luer Lock may also be referred to as Luer Slip. Generally, Luer Lock syringes enable a needle to be twisted onto the syringe and secured using a twist locking action. This enables a secure connection and will help to prevent accidental removal of the needle when in use. Luer Slip syringes allow needles to be pushed onto the end if it is needed. Friction holds the needle hub in place and there is no locking function like that on the Luer Lock.
The other syringe types available include; eccentric tips where the tip is off centre - these are generally used for injections into surface veins or arteries and allow the user to get closer to the patient’s skin, and catheter tip - which have a longer, tapered tip designed for irrigation or tubing. One other type is those with fixed needles. These are commonly used amongst diabetics and allow for easy disposal and create less medical waste.
The gauge of a needle refers to the diameter or width of the hole in the needle. The higher the gauge number, the smaller the hole and the thinner the needle. High gauge needles may be required for use on smaller areas of the body with smaller veins such as the hands or feet. Thinner needles with a higher gauge often provide less pain to the patient and are best suited to low viscosity medications. Needles with a lower gauge are generally thicker and stronger, are more suited to viscous medication and can withstand denser skin penetration.
Standard needles vary in length from ⅜” to 3 ½”. The length of the needle required is determined by its intended use. Different length needles are used for different areas and types of administration. Longer needles over ½” are more commonly used for intramuscular injections, whilst shorter needles, less than ½”, are more commonly used for intravenous (into the vein) injections. Subcutaneous injections usually require a needle that is between ½” and ⅝”.
Using the wrong needle length could result in poor administration and absorption of medication or damage the patient’s tissue and muscles resulting in bruising or bleeding.
The most common needle gauges are 26 and 27. This gauge range adapts to all three types of injections-intradermal, intramuscular and subcutaneous. Here is a quick reference guide:
The syringe you choose should accurately hold the correct dose of medication that you need to administer. It’s usually recommended that you choose a syringe that has a slightly larger capacity than the dose required, for example, a 5ml syringe for a dose of 3.5ml is just fine. This eliminates the need to inject twice with two smaller doses. However, you should not choose a syringe that is exceptionally larger than your required amount of medication as this could lead to difficulty with accurately measuring the dose.
Low dead space syringes have a much smaller space between the plunger and the needle hub when fully pushed in. The dead space in a syringe holds a small amount of fluid after it has been used and research has shown that this type of syringe could reduce the chance of spreading infections and disease. Low dead space syringes help to eliminate inaccurate dosing and produce a smaller amount of medication waste. The dead space at the end of the syringe has been eliminated by extending the grommet to fill the dead space.
When purchasing needles and syringes it is so important to know which types, sizes and lengths you require. Ensure you know if you are carrying out intradermal, intramuscular or subcutaneous injections and the gauge and length of the needle you need to administer the medication correctly. You can browse our extensive range of needles and syringes here.