Infiltration and extravasation are terms used in the context of intravenous (IV) therapy, indicating complications related to the administration of fluids or medications.


Infiltration occurs when the IV fluid or medication accidentally leaks into the surrounding tissue instead of going into the vein. This can happen for various reasons, such as the needle becoming dislodged or the vein rupturing. The consequences can include:

  • Swelling and discomfort: The most common immediate effects are swelling at the infusion site, discomfort, and a cool feeling due to the fluid in the tissue.
  • Reduced blood flow: In severe cases, the volume of fluid can be enough to compress blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the area, potentially causing tissue damage.
  • Tissue damage: While most infiltration events are mild and cause limited harm, certain medications, especially those that are highly acidic, alkaline, or contain high concentrations of dextrose, can cause significant tissue damage.

Treatment for infiltration involves stopping the IV infusion, removing the catheter, elevating the affected limb to reduce swelling, and applying warm or cold compresses, depending on the type of fluid that has infiltrated. Monitoring and supportive care are essential to ensure that the affected area heals properly and to prevent complications.


Extravasation is a more severe form of infiltration that occurs when a vesicant (a substance that can cause tissue blistering and necrosis) is inadvertently injected into the surrounding tissue instead of the vein. The consequences of extravasation can be much more severe than those of simple infiltration:

  • Severe pain and blistering: Vesicants can cause immediate pain, redness, and blistering at the site of extravasation.
  • Tissue necrosis: The most severe consequence is tissue necrosis, where the affected tissue dies due to the toxic effects of the vesicant. This can lead to long-term damage and may require surgical intervention, such as debridement (removing dead tissue) or even reconstructive surgery.
  • Loss of function: Depending on the location and extent of the damage, there may be a temporary or permanent loss of function in the affected area.

The treatment for extravasation is more urgent and complex than for infiltration. It may involve stopping the infusion immediately, carefully removing the IV catheter to avoid further spread of the vesicant, applying specific antidotes if available, and consulting specialists such as plastic surgeons or wound care experts for the management of tissue damage.

Both infiltration and extravasation require prompt recognition and appropriate management to minimize harm and promote healing. In the case of vesicant extravasation, proactive measures and emergency protocols are vital due to the potential for severe tissue damage.

You can reach IV Infiltration/Extravasation Injury Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected] or by text at (305) 929-8935.

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.
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