Background To ensure safe administration of continuous 5-FU infusions to outpatients.
Purpose To make general recommendations for the use of elastomeric infusion devices for cancer patients with continuous 5-FU infusions.
Material and methods Revision of the technical specifications for all the infusion devices available, as well as review of the literature and studies available that show differences in the accuracy of infusion speed. These differences are due to factors in the infusion itself and to factors related to the behaviour and life style of the patient.
The sources of information were:
Technical datasheets of the different infusion devices.
Information from healthcare Products “Medical devices”: Advice to patients.
Literature search in PubMed using the key words “elastomeric infusion devices” and “5-FU infusion” and the resources available through the SEFH Website.
Results Elastomeric infusion devices provide an infusion accuracy of ±15% if the established conditions are followed.
Other variables affecting the accuracy of the infusion are:
Temperature. It modifies the viscosity of the mix. It is estimated that a change of one degree in temperature changes the flow speed by 2–3%.
Viscosity. Viscosity has an inverse effect on flow, and speed decreases when viscosity increases.
Concentration. Concentration will have a significant impact on viscosity.
Atmospheric pressure. Low pressures (600 mmHg) may reduce the infusion speed significantly.
Back pressure. If infusion devices are calibrated in a particular position a change in that position may change the amount infused.
Storage. It is important to temper the infusion device before use, to avoid variations in the viscosity of the fluid and in the texture of the elastomer membrane, etc.
Conclusion It is necessary to educate patients and nurses to reduce the incidence of infusion errors.
References and/or acknowledgements No conflict of interest.
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