The veins in your body are primarily responsible for returning blood to the heart from the peripheral tissues. However, we have also developed other ways to use them, notably as a highway to transport medicines to the rest of the body 🛣️
We’ve appreciated some of the medical uses of veins in a recent snippet where we looked at taking a blood sample and injection sites. Now let’s dive a little deeper and travel inside the remarkable venous system 🚅
Intravenous – or within the vein – is a term commonly used in medicine. The interconnected network of veins allows a treatment to be introduced at one location, with the knowledge that it will be quickly distributed throughout the entire body as it is carried by the blood ❤️ We make use of the venous system as a means of communication to the rest of the body when we:
- administer IV antibiotics for rapid action 💊
- distribute fluids around the body of a dehydrated patient who is unable to take in fluids orally 💧
- take blood out of the body to be tested 🦠
All of the above can be achieved by accessing a vein lying superficially under the skin.
We have also developed therapies that involve entering the venous network at a peripheral point, like in the arm or leg, and feeding a tube through the vein all the way back to the heart, or to another location in the body 🚑
An example of this would be a PICC line, or a peripherally inserted central catheter. Some drugs that are delivered intravenously are toxic and would cause damage to the surrounding tissue if they were delivered directly into a peripheral vein ⚠️ To overcome this, a soft tube can be inserted into a vein in the hand and threaded through this vein towards the heart to deliver the medication in a place where a higher blood volume will dilute the toxic drug. This is sometimes used for delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs.
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