One of the greatest technological advances in the medical field has been that of intravenous medicine—the ability to feed, hydrate, medicate and replace blood lost in sick and injured patients directly, through the use of needles. Leading the ability to perform all these functions are infusion pumps. These devices deliver controlled amounts of nutrition, blood and medication directly to a person’s circulatory system, where it has the best, most immediate effect on recovery. They can also deliver medicine just under the skin, or directly to the central nervous system, such as when a woman has epidural anesthesia when in labor.
Although the first recorded attempt at intravenous medicine dates to 1492, this branch of medical science gained real momentum in the 17th century. The first working IV infusion device was invented by the famous English architect Christopher Wren in 1658. https://www.viarsitek.com/
Soon afterward, medical scientists conducted ever increasing experiments with administering drugs and fluids intravenously. Better needles were developed, which led to the first successful blood transfusion in 1665. Unfortunately, these early experiments also led to some deaths and as a result the British government, the French Parliament and the Vatican all banned blood transfusions—bans that lasted for a hundred years and effectively halted progress in intravenous medical study.
When the bans were lifted, however, progress resumed at a rapid pace. The key elements of intravenous transfusion which are still observed today were established: a slow infusion process, awareness and prevention of risks from air embolism, and avoiding volume overload. Early in the 19th century, early prototypes of infusion pumps were invented to help control the rate of flow during intravenous procedures.
The 20th century saw huge advances in intravenous medicine including IV pumps. The two World Wars spurred medical advances across the board – needles were refined, rubber tubing was replaced by plastic, and vacuum bottles that reduced the risk of air embolism were designed. Vacuum bottles themselves were replaced by plastic bags in the 1950s.
One of the major developments in infusion pumps was the invention in the early 1970s of a wearable infusion pump, by Dean Kamen. Kamen’s brother was a doctor, and complained that the infusion pumps of the day were too unwieldy. As a result, Dean Kamen invented the first ambulatory pump. It not only gave patients freedom to move when receiving treatment, it meant they could receive their medication on an outpatient basis. This advancement was a godsend to patients, such as diabetics, who need round the clock injections. Kamen’s pump also automatically administered precise doses at regularly timed intervals, ushering in many advances in infusion pumps and other medical equipment, such as portable dialysis machines.
Medical equipment today includes ambulatory pumps that allow the patient to self-minister doses of medication. Today’s infusion pumps also sound alarms if power to the pump runs low, if the line gets kinked, or if the bag or syringe runs low or has pressure applied to it. Some pumps even come with built-in drug libraries and guidelines, and they maintain an electronic record of all alerts. These pumps can link to a hospital’s information system, showing a constant stream of information to medical staff.
The technological advances in infusion pumps during the past forty years have transformed the treatment of patients in hospitals, as well as afforded the ability to receive treatment while going about their daily lives. These pumps insure that patients receive the best care.