How to Choose the Right Syringe

Each syringe has a different purpose. There are three types of syringes.

Plastic Syringes – Most common type they are inexpensive, disposable, and used for almost everything from blood draws to vaccinations.

Stainless Steel Syringes – These types of syringes are used primarily in the operating room and for specific procedures such as a spinal tap.

Glass Syringes – These syringes are the oldest type they have been around since the late 1800s. Today, they are used with specific types of medication pumps. 

Types of Tips for Syringes

There are four different types of tips for syringes. Each tip has a specific purpose.

Slip Tip – Used with medical tubing such as feeding tubes, catheters, and epidurals. The tip does not have to be twisted to stay in place, making it ideal for tubing that you don’t want to come undone.

Catheter Tip – This type of tip is used for irrigation purposes. 

Luer Lock Tip – Secures the tip in place with a twist.

Eccentric Tips – These tips are used for injections that go just under the skin into a vein.

Syringe Size

There are several factors to consider when choosing a size. There are three places a needle can be injected into the arm.

Dermis – The second layer of skin.

Subcutaneous Tissue – The tissue is between the dermis and the muscle.

Intramuscular – This injection goes into the muscle. 

Sizes of Needles

The size of a needle inserted into syringes is essential. Each type of medication/vaccination etc., need to be matched to the correct syringes and the age of the patient.

Needle lengths range from six to thirty-two gauge. The dept of how far the needle is inserted is also important. Needles sizes range between 3/8 of an inch to 3 and 1/2 inch. You certainly wouldn’t use a 2-inch needle with a 32 gauge on a newborn. It’s important to realize how the gauge and length of the needle work together with the syringes.

Syringes and Needle Sizes

Newborns up to 28 days old – 5/8 inch with a 22 to 25 gauge. This is the smallest needle and gauge size. You would use the smallest for the smallest of patients.

1 Month to 1 Year- 1- inch with a 22 to 25 gauge these injections go in the baby’s thigh. These are the required vaccinations and occasionally medication if the baby is sick and requires IM antibiotics or IV fluids. 

Ages 1- to 2-Year-Old Toddlers – For the thigh one inch to one and 1/4 inch with a gauge of 22 to 25. For the arm (deltoid muscle), 5/8 to one inch with a 22 to 25 gauge.

3 to 18 Year Old’s – Arm injections (deltoid muscle)5/8 to one inch and the gauge is still 22 to 25 as the child ages and grows the so does the size of the needle (depending on the type of injection and where it is being injected (see above) as does the gauge.

Adults – There is no specific needle length or gauge size. It all depends on the adult’s size and what the needle is being used for. You wouldn’t use the same size gauge for a blood draw as you would for an antibiotic IV.

A simple syringe is an important part of providing excellent healthcare to patients. Using the wrong length or gauge can cause an unnecessary injury. 


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