New York Hand Surgery

Intravenous Drug Infusions

Intravenous drug infusion is the administration of drug directly into the vein in fluid form, slowly over time. Intravenous route is chosen when the drug cannot be given by other routes or when it needs to reach the target site quickly as in the case of an emergency. Through intravenous route the drug can reach all parts of the body. Intravenous drug infusion is given in a number of disease conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, psoriatic arthritis, cancer and others.

For treatment of arthritis, two types of drugs are given– one to reduce the pain and inflammation and second to prevent the further damage to the joints. Most of these are immunosuppressive drugs that act by suppressing the immune system thereby reducing the damage to joints which is primarily due to improper overactive immune response. The second type of drug needs to be given for several weeks, months or years to be effective.

A new class of the second type of drugs has been possible because of the advent of biotechnology; they are called as biological response modifiers. They act by blocking the action of the natural substances involved in causing the disease such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-1. They are given either subcutaneously or by intravenous infusion. They are fast acting. However they increase the chances of infection. Thus should not be given to people with recurrent infection, chronic infection or exposed to tuberculosis or have conditions that already have put them at risk to infections. They are given only when other group of drugs do not work or cause intolerable side effects. They cannot be given to patients with heart problem and multiple sclerosis. Check with your doctor if these medications can be helpful in your condition. In case doctor suggests for intravenous drug infusion check for the following:

  • Evaluate the possible risk and benefits of the prescribed drug therapy with your doctor
  • Any premedication that needs to be given before the drug infusion.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothes before going for infusion.
  • Infusion is generally given for around two hours. Any unused infusion solution should not be reused.
  • Some side effects of infusion include fever, chills, chest pain, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, rash and itching. If any side effect does not go away and bothers you after the infusion do tell the doctor.
  • Bring a book or magazine to sit and read.
  • Sit back and relax during the infusion.
  • After the infusion the dressing will be done at the site where infusion was given .If allergic to tape, please tell the staff.
  • Check for any medication that needs to be taken after infusion.
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