Infusion pump: what is it for and what care should the patient have?

The infusion pump refers to a drug administration system in which the substance directly accesses liquid structures. There are two main types of infusion pumps:

  • The spinal infusion pump is a system for intrathecal administration of drugs. This means that the medicine reaches the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cord. It is a way that requires a very expensive material, so it is usually reserved for terminal patients or those who are suffering a lot of pain.

The intrathecal space is a virtual region located between the meninges. Specifically, between the arachnoid and the pia mater. For this reason it is also known as a subarachnoid space. By directly accessing the central nervous system through the cerebrospinal fluid many advantages are achieved. For example, it allows anesthetics, sedatives, etc. to be introduced. and thus reduce the side effects.

  • The intravenous infusion pump or Perfusion pump is used to inject drugs directly into the bloodstream of the patient. In essence it is the same as the intravenous line, but it has very interesting characteristics that differentiate it.

For example, allows you to manage very small volumes in a secure manner that otherwise could not be used. Another advantage is that its programming is simple and the patient can receive his infusion at the right time.

Since the second type of pump is, without a doubt, the most used and from which the other pumps derive. From now on we will only refer to them when we talk about infusion pumps.

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Other types of infusion pumps that are also used are peristaltic and subcutaneous pumps. In the vast majority of infusion pumps, several medications can be administered using the same device.

Either way, thanks to infusion pumps, the medical team can easily administer a wide variety of chemical compounds.

How does the infusion pump work?

To administer the recommended compounds in certain clinical cases, doctors resort to this device. This machine is programmed to generate pressure on the route injected into the patient. Thus, it is able to transfer the chemical substance from the external medium to the patient's bloodstream.

Fundamentally, There are two types of infusions that are administered depending on the route used. On the one hand, enteral infusions (which use the oral route) can be used. On the other hand, you can resort to parenteral infusions (which use the intravenous or IV). Also, pumps can eject the infusion continuously or intermittently.

In this way, The nursing group saves time and energy in controlling the transfer of these fluids. In the past they had to monitor the posture that the patient adopted, the fixation of the catheter, the time of the procedure etc. In addition, thanks to them a greater precision of the doses is achieved and the patient can move (within recommended limits). It is also capable of diminishing the possible risks or complications derived from this technique.

There are different types of ambulatory infusion pumps (that is, for the patient to use at home). They are distinguished according to the capacity they have, the type of programming they need, etc.

Care that patients must take into account

As a general rule, the medical team will explain to the patient the operation of the infusion pump. They will also advise a series of recommendations to follow during treatment with this device.

Usually, the programming of these machines is easy to understand but you can go to the specialists if you have any questions. In some cases, the nursing group will use a password-protected automatic programming. In this way, patients who may become disoriented or confused do not alter the rhythm of administration.

On the other hand, experts must adjust the batteries to avoid disconnection of the device. The initial drug level may need to be marked in some clinical cases (such as those using a syringe infusion pump).

Finally, the corresponding doctor will advise you what lifestyle you should follow during the procedure. Among other aspects, personal hygiene, food to be followed and physical activity that can be performed.