Intravenous (IV)

What does intravenous (IV) mean?

When a procedure is intravenous, it takes place “within a vein.” Typically, it is used in reference to fluids or medicine given through a tube or needle inserted in a vein.

For example, an IV line can supply fluids and other essential nutrients directly to the bloodstream for those who cannot eat or drink.

IV infusion can also be used to administer medicine, and by going right into the bloodstream, the therapeutic effect is greater. Drugs administered orally must go through the digestive system, which removes a significant portion of the medicine. However, intravenous therapy can bypass the digestive system and help the patient more quickly.

What is the benefit of IV infusion?

An IV can provide medicine or fluid directly into the bloodstream, which produces a faster therapeutic effect than other methods of ingestion, such as orally or topically.

There are many instances in which an intravenous injection may be preferred for administering medication, such as:

  • when someone needs a very accurate dose of medicine
  • when someone needs potentially life-saving medication quickly
  • when it would be ineffective or impractical to take a medication by mouth
  • when someone cannot eat or drink