INTRODUCTION. Intravenous (IV) therapy is a widely used method for the administration of medication in hospitals worldwide. ICU and surgical patients in particular often require multiple IV catheters due to incompatibility of certain drugs and the high complexity of medical therapy. This increases discomfort by painful invasive procedures, the risk of infections and costs of medication and disposable considerably. When different drugs are administered through the same lumen, it is common ICU practice to flush with a neutral fluid between the administration of two incompatible drugs in order to optimally use infusion lumens. An important constraint for delivering multiple incompatible drugs is the volume of separator fluid that is sufficient to safely separate them. OBJECTIVES. In this pilot study we investigated whether the choice of separator fluid, solvent, or administration rate affects the separator volume required in a typical ICU infusion setting. METHODS. A standard ICU IV line (2m, 2ml, 1mm internal diameter) was filled with methylene blue (40 mg/l) solution and flushed using an infusion pump with separator fluid. Independent variables were solvent for methylene blue (NaCl 0.9% vs. glucose 5%), separator fluid (NaCl 0.9% vs. glucose 5%), and administration rate (50, 100, or 200 ml/h). Samples were collected using a fraction collector until <2% of the original drug concentration remained and were analyzed using spectrophotometry. RESULTS. We did not find a significant effect of administration rate on separator fluid volume. However, NaCl/G5% (solvent/separator fluid) required significantly less separator fluid than NaCl/NaCl (3.6 ± 0.1 ml vs. 3.9 ± 0.1 ml, p <0.05). Also, G5%/G5% required significantly less separator fluid than NaCl/NaCl (3.6 ± 0.1 ml vs. 3.9 ± 0.1 ml, p <0.05). The significant decrease in required flushing volume might be due to differences in the viscosity of the solutions. However, mean differences were small and were most likely caused by human interactions with the fluid collection setup. The average required flushing volume is 3.7 ml. CONCLUSIONS. The choice of separator fluid, solvent or administration rate had no impact on the required flushing volume in the experiment. Future research should take IV line length, diameter, volume and also drug solution volumes into account in order to provide a full account of variables affecting the required separator fluid volume.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0649
JournalIntensive Care Medicine Experimental
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1-Sep-2017


  • glucose
  • methylene blue
  • sodium chloride
  • solvent
  • disposable equipment
  • drug combination
  • drug solution
  • flushing
  • human
  • independent variable
  • infection
  • infusion pump
  • invasive procedure
  • liquid
  • pilot study
  • spectrophotometry
  • viscosity

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