Section III. CATEGORIES OF INTRAVENOUS FLUIDS AND THEIR USES
Many patients in hospitals receive intravenous fluid therapy. The reasons for
their receiving intravenous fluid therapy are not the same. Likewise, the solutions they
receive are not all alike. Some patients have intravenous solutions tailored to meet their
specific fluid, nutritional, and electrolyte needs. This section of the subcourse will focus
on those solutions commonly used and/or prepared in the hospital setting.
a. Use. Hydrating solutions are used to provide the patient with required fluid
(i.e., water). The volume of preparation administered depends on the fluid needs of the
b. Examples of Hydrating Solutions. Below are some examples of
preparations commonly used as hydrating solutions.
(1) 5% Dextrose Injection (D5W). This solution consists of dextrose and
water. One liter of the 5% Dextrose Injection contains approximately 170 calories. This
solution contains no appreciable electrolytes. Therefore, electrolytes are sometimes
added to the 5% Dextrose Injection (e.g., 15 mEq KCl in one liter of D5W). The 5%
Dextrose Injection is used to provide fluid replacement and energy.
Dextrose solution is available in several concentrations. For example, you
will see 10% Dextrose Injection and 50% Dextrose Injection in the pharmacy.
Because of its high concentration, 50% Dextrose Injection should never be
injected before it is diluted.
(2) 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection (Normal Saline). This product is a
solution of sodium chloride and water. Each 100 milliliters of solution contains 0.9 gram
of sodium chloride. 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection contains 154 milliequivalents of
sodium and 154 milliequivalents of chloride in each 1,000 milliliters of solution. This
product is used to provide fluid replacement and to replace moderate losses of the
sodium ion (Na+).
Sodium chloride solutions are also available in other concentrations. For
example, 0.45% Sodium Chloride Injection is commonly seen.
(3) 5% Dextrose Injection in 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection. This product
has in each 100 milliliters five grams of dextrose and 0.9 grams of sodium chloride. As
you might think, it is a combination of products "a" and "b" above. Not only does this
product provide a source of fluid, it also serves as a source of both energy (170
calories/liter) and sodium. This product is used in fluid replacement, in the replacement
of moderate losses of sodium, and as a source of energy.