The History of the IV

The IV and surgical latex tubing is a wonderful medical tool that has saved many lives. This past weekend, I witnessed the amazing power of IVs while my aunt was in the hospital. She was hooked up to many different varieties of tubes and IVs that kept her body functioning after surgery. While we watched her in the hospital, I wondered about the history of IVs. When was the first IV used? What were early IVs made of? What did hospitals use before surgical latex tubing?
The history of IVs and medical tubing goes further back than I imagined. The first injection into the blood stream occurred in 1656 when Sr. Christopher Wren injected opium into the bloodstream via a quill and bladder. However, it was not until 1935 that scientists and medical professionals perfected the theory behind IV solutions. Early medical professionals thought animal blood was safe to use inside humans, and that all human blood was alike. In 1935, the first slow drip IV was invented. Early IVs used surgical tubing made from rubber, which was sterilized between uses. It was not until 1945 that any form of plastic materials were used in hospital settings, and not until the 1970s that latex and other plastic use in the medical industry was widespread.
Today, IVs are an integral part of hospital therapy. According to Work Place Nurses, over 80 percent of all hospital patients receive some sort of IV treatment during their hospital stays. Today patients receive blood, saline, nutrients, and medicine through IVs. Hospitals can even use latex tubing to temporarily replace certain functions of the body until the body recovers, such as when a patient cannot digest or eliminate food due to trauma, surgery, or a coma. It truly amazes me how much the world of medicine has changed in just a few decades.