Types of Infusion Pumps

Today we will be discussing the types of infusion pumps available and what each type is used for. But first…. What is an infusion pump?

What is an Infusion Pump?  Why do I need one?

An infusion pump is an electrical device that is used to get medication, nutrients and other fluids into your body in a controlled amount (FDA). These are needed to eliminate or lessen the difficulty and sometimes impossibility of administering substances to yourself or to a patient manually. Many types of infusion pumps have been developed since the 1960’s to lessen the occurrence of human error when administering different infusions.

Some people require special types on infusion pumps. This may be based on the duration of administration of the medication or the dosage.

Some people need very minute or very large amounts of medication administered to them continuously throughout the day or at scheduled intervals.

Infusion pumps offer the advantage of being able to deliver very small or very large amounts of medications at programmed time intervals. Another wonderful advantage is that infusion pumps can be programmed to work with natural changes in the body such as the circadian rhythm. It can also work against pathological changes such as insulin resistance.

Smart  Pumps

This is a new infusion pump technology that is safer to use in the hospital and at home. This invention has saved many lives with it’s Dose Error Reduction Software (DERS) and EPROM. EPROM is a chip placed in the infusion pump which can be programmed with any hospital drug database. This database contains important  information such as safety limits of drugs and the dosages to be administered.

Smart  pumps are programmed to alert the user of dangerous complications or errors associated with infusion pump usage. For example, a person using a smart pump  will be alerted when there are blockages in the tubes, air bubbles, when there will be adverse drug reactions and when the medication dosage is being administered incorrectly by the standards of the hospital drug database.

This is a brilliant improvement from old-fashioned roller-clamp and drip-chamber systems.

Types of Drugs Administered by Infusion Pumps at Home  

Who Needs infusion Pumps?

Some of the types of drugs infused include medications for people with:

  • Cancer and cancer-related pain conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hemophilia
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bacterial infections or sepsis
  • Hepatitis C virus infection
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Chronic inflammatory disease
  • Dehydration and malnutrition

The most popular infusion therapies are intravenous antibiotics.

Types of Infusion Mechanisms Carried Out by Infusion Pumps

  • Intermittent infusion

    These infusion pumps deliver a set volume of medication for a specific duration of time at different intervals throughout the day (as prescribed by a doctor).

  • Continuous infusion

In continuous infusion, medication is administered throughout the entire day in small pulses of infusion at programmed infusion speeds.

  • Patient controlled infusion

Patient controlled infusion allows the patient to have some degree of control over how much and when medication is administered. This is mostly used in analgesia (Patient Controlled Analgesia, PCA) for long term or chronic pain. The patients do not have full control over the amount of medication administered as there is a programmed upper limit to avoid the infusion of harmful doses.

  • Total parenteral nutrition infusion

This delivers a nutrient or set of nutrients needed by the patient, bypassing the alimentary canal by using an intravenous access.

Types of Infusion Pumps

Infusion pumps are very diverse. They can be categorized into different types based on different factors, but there are three main things that experts take into considerations when placing them into groups. These include:

  1. Mobility of the infusion pump
  2. The volume of fluids delivered from the pump
  3. The function of the infusion pump

Types of Infusion Pumps Based on Mobility

  • Stationary Infusion pumps

 

Stationary infusion pumps are used in patients who have chronic or complex diseases, that leave them bedridden and in need of frequent bedside IV medication or nutrition.

  • Ambulatory Infusion Pumps

Ambulatory (mobile) infusion pumps have become increasingly important with the advent of new medications for chronic, debilitating diseases. Some people require medication throughout the day to function normally but still want to do their normal day to day activities. A mobile infusion pump solves this problem by delivering medication on the go.

Types of Infusion Pumps based on The Volume of  Fluid Delivered

There are two basic types of infusion pumps when you consider the volume of fluids being delivered:

  • Large volume infusion pumps  (LVPs)

 

These infuse large volumes of substances, mostly nourishment, into a patient. They usually use peristaltic computerized pumps. Usually, there is a computer controlled roller or a set of fingers sequentially pressing a rubber tube through which the medication flows. This permits different rates of flow of the medication depending on the patient’s need.

  • Small volume infusion pumps (SVPs) / Syringe Pumps

 

Small volume pumps stay true to the name. They deliver smaller medication substances such as hormones by a controlled motor mechanism that uses a plunger-like pumping effect.  This pushes the medication through a syringe and into the tube (syringe infusion pumps) to the patient.

Types of Infusion Pumps Based on Their Functions

There are two basic types of medical infusion pump categories when considering how they are used: traditional pumps and specialty pumps. These can then be further subdivided into other categories based on when, how and why they are used.

Traditional Infusion Pumps

Traditional medical infusion pumps are used in hospitals, doctor’s offices, settings for long term care and also in home and mobile settings. These pumps are used for administering fluids for hydration, pain medication, chemotherapy medications, antibiotics and others. Traditional infusion pumps can further be divided into three types of products.

These include:

  1. Large volume infusion Pumps
  2. Ambulatory infusion pumps (Chemotherapy Pumps and Disposable Pumps – such as elastomeric pumps)
  3. Syringe infusion Pumps

Specialty Infusion Pumps

These infusion pumps are mostly used in home care settings as they were designed to meet the needs of special cases.

The three types of infusion pumps under the specialty medical infusion pump category include:

  1. Insulin Infusion Pumps
  2. Enteral Feeding Pumps
  3. Implantable Infusion Pumps

Do you or someone you know need an infusion pump? Take a look at our Infusion Pumps Sale page here and Infusion Pumps Accessories Sale page here to see if you can get them at a better price online.

 

I  hope this information was helpful to you. Please comment below  with any additional questions  about  the types of  infusion pumps available. Also, let me know if you or anyone you know have any experience with any of the infusion pumps mentioned here.


 

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14 Comments

  1. This is a lot of useful information! I’ve been taking some extra “health” related electives at university; and the topic of infusion pumps arose; but I could barely participate with conversation, because I really didn’t know too much about it. I found I was lost in it all 😛 So, coming home to research; this clears things up – and I understand the uses of such devices much more appropriately. THANK YOU! 🙂

    • Hey Mei,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Our main goal at IPR&I is to keep you informed. I realized that the information online about these devices are very limited for people who want to know more about the types and classifications of infusion pumps. I was hoping to fill the gap with this article. I am happy to see that it is helpful

      All the best in your future studies!

      -Crystal

  2. A very informative piece. Especially useful since a close family member was recently put on an infusion pump at a hospital and I was worrying about whether or not they’d receive an adequate supply of nutrient to sustain them. This article has given me some reassurance with the types of infusion pumps and how each is used.
    Thanks. TR.

    • Hey TR.

      Very happy that this information was helpful for you 🙂 I’m sure that the medical professionals at the hospital were on point with their choice of infusion pump but it was very proactive of you to look it up! You seem to be a very thorough and careful person. I respect that.
      Thanks for dropping by!
      Remember to like and share our posts on social media so that others will be equally informed 🙂

      – Crystal

  3. Thanks for your really educational site in regards to infusion pumps. I didn’t know there were so many different infusion pumps available. Just out of curiousity,if someone is bed ridden at home. Do they need special permits in place to be able to use them at home? Where would they get these permits from?

    • Hey Kerryanne,

      You’re Welcome:) And I am sure that with the ever advancing nature of our world, more specialty pumps will be developed in the near future.

      Regarding your question about infusion pump permits – I do not know of any law that prevents you from using an infusion pump in the home care setting. Some pumps are prescription only, meaning you can only purchase them if you have a prescription from a licensed practitioner (eg. Baxter Sigma Spectrum Infusion System). Under a doctor’s advice, the pump would be purchased and programmed. Some are available for purchase without a prescription online. Your doctor and/or pharmacist would give you advice on how to use the pump you purchase. Most of the medications must be prescribed. Enteral feeding bags of nutrients are available online but other medications are prescription only. The only applicable law would be against the use of illicit drugs in an infusion pump.

      I hope this answers your question. Thanks for stopping by!

      -Crystal

  4. Thanks for the information about the types of infusion pumps out there. I am thinking about asking my father’s doctor if I should get one for him. Bcuz I have to take him to the clinic to get his diabetes medz infused. Do i need a prescription for an infusion pump for a Diabetic person?

    • Hey Steven.

      It depends on where you are. You can call your doctor to find out. There are different laws governing different areas where the use of insulin pumps are concerned. Also, some insulin medication brands are available OTC but others need a prescription, especially the new fancy ones. I would advise you to ask your doctor these questions as he would know what laws apply in your area and if a home infusion pump is the best choice for you. Even if you have a home infusion pump, you should still have regular visits with your doctor. I hope this helped. Let me know if you have any further questions.

      -Crystal

  5. I didn’t even know that there are so many types of infusion pumps out there. Especially with all those functions.

    I have learned so much just by reading this post than googling about it myself.
    Also, it’s well written and easy to read.

    Keep up the good work, thanks for a great post!

    • Hey Dario,

      Thanks for the support. You can count on me to keep you informed. And thanks for the info on Apple products you posted yesterday on iAppleRebel.com. Thinking of getting one of those screen savers you recommended.

      Don’t be a stranger! Keep up the good work on your site also

  6. Wow! I never knew anything about infusion pumps. I’m glad that you answer that question first thing. This topic would not have ever crossed my mind. I do see people with these pumps with them and just never questioned it. I only felt empathy knowing that they are dealing with a very serious health issue.

    You have such a fantastic wealth of information. If I ever get the chance to speak to someone who uses a pump or knows someone, I will definitely refer them to your site. I think that you have a unique niche. I like it.

    • Thanks Jen,

      I guess it is a good thing that you came across this post. The aim of this article was to educate people about infusion pumps so I am happy to see that the job was well done.

      Thanks for referring others to the site as well.

      All the best,

      -Crystal

  7. Wow, I must commend you for this insightful article as I learned a lot just browsing through this article. Before now I never knew there are different types of infusion pumps as they all look the same to me.
    Just one question here
    Can anybody administer the infusion Pump or only train health personnel are allowed to administer? Asking out of curiosity.

    • Hey there

      Thanks for dropping by. Happy to share the knowledge 

      So to answer your question, some infusion pumps (such as some disposable infusion pumps) can be used at home by normal individuals by just reading the manual and from getting training, guidance or advice from a doctor, pharmacist or nurse. Other infusion pumps are more complicated and must be handled by a trained, licensed professional.   

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