IV Drip Chamber

IV drip chamber


As a part of the IV set, a drip chamber refers to a device that ensures that gas rises out from the liquid instead of passing downstream. A drip chamber is usually associated with systems like intravenous therapy. It ensures the elimination of air embolisms. Air embolism is a condition when one of your blood vessels gets blocked by the presence of one or two gases in the circulatory system. 

IV drip chamber
Spike& drip chamber

A drip chamber with a spike is located at the bottom of the bag of the infusion IV set. It can be used to analyze and experiment with the fluid dripping from the infusion IV set bag. It can be used to estimate the manual IV setup’s speed by looking at the chamber and visualizing the number of drops per 60 seconds. One thing to note in this regard is that the drip chamber must always be half full. If it has more fluid than that, you will not be able to visualize the drops. If the fluid is lesser, it will allow the air to come into the IV tube and eventually to the blood circulatory system, resulting in vessel blockage.

IV drip chamber
IV drip chamber

Structure of a drip chamber with spike

This section highlights two critical parts of the drip chamber structure.

1. Air vent

The air vent is part of the spike, which is present above the drip chambers of IV tubings, because of which they are sometimes referred to as vented tubing. There is an air inlet present on the IV tube’s spike that lies just above the drip chamber. It is mainly used with IV bottles made of glass. This vented tubing lets the air inside the IV bottle and changes the fluid level. The fluid is displaced in the IV solution as the air infuses. The non-vented tubing is another type of IV tubing, mostly used with collapsible IV bags made of plastic.

air vent of spike
air vent

It is difficult to determine the flow rate of a drip chamber when the volume of fluid is too high in the chamber. An air vent is present above the drip chamber to deal with this problem and reduces the liquid volume by infusing air into it.

2. The Filter

In some infusion sets, companies add a solution filter along with the drip chamber. The filter is used to filter out the particles in the liquid and protect the patient from the infection caused by the particles. The filtration rate of latex particles by the filter should not be less than 80%.

Drop Factor

The drop factor differs based on the hole’s size in the chamber from where liquid drops into it. When a fluid drops from this hole drop by drop, it determines the drop factor of that chamber. For instance, if a chamber has a small hole, the fluid will drop in small drops. If it is bigger, more fluid will be able to come out in one drop, so the drop size will be more significant. The drop factor can be defined as the number of drops per ml of the IV fluid. After finding out the drop factor, it can be used along with the drip chamber’s observations to calculate the flow rate. Flow rate is expressed in ggts/min. Gtts comes from the Latin word guttae, which means ‘drop.’

Types of drip chambers

The drip chambers are classified into two following main types. We will look into both of those types.

  1. Micro Drop (Smaller Tube)
  2. Macro Drop (Larger Tube)

Both of these types of chambers have different drop factors that are associated with their respective names. They are fundamental to the structure of the drip chamber. This section covers these two main classifications of drip chambers.

IV drip chamber
IV drip chamber

Difference between Micro Drip and Macro Drip Chambers

#Micro DripMacro Drip
1The prefix Micro means small.The prefix Macro means large.
2Micro drop tubing is narrower and produces smaller drops.Macro drop tubing is wider and produces larger drops.
3The application of Micro Drip is mainly used for infants and children, where the consumption of fluid is low relative to an adult patient.The application of Macro Drip is primarily with routine IV administration.
4Micro Drip is not needed with those samples in which the precision rate is not the most important thing.Micro Drip is not associated with those people that require sensitive medication.
5The micro dripping tube comes in only one size: 60 GTT/mlThe macro dripping tube comes in three different sizes. They are as follows: 10 GTT/ml, 15 GTT/ml, and 20 GTT/ml.
6Micro Drop has fewer chances of an error because of the smaller size of the droplets.Macro Drop has a higher chance of an error because of the bigger size of the droplets.
7Micro Drop is time-consuming and takes a longer time to make a complete ML (milliliter) of a drop.Macro Drops are efficient and take lesser time to make a complete ML (milliliter) of a drop
8The calculation of the drop rate is relatively easier in Micro Tubing.The calculation of the drop rate is somewhat challenging in Macro Tubing.


The drip chambers have significant applications in the world these days. In present times when medication has become an utmost priority, you need to prioritize every single detail associated with it. The estimation of time is crucial in this regard. However, you must always prioritize quality over quantity. It is not that macro tubing on a baby or an infant is acceptable just because it will also get the job done. The macro tubing, in the case of a baby, can also bring consequences to the infant. Hence, a realistic and professional approach is required when deciding upon the methodology for the procedure’s conduction.

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