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The Resus Room

Intraosseous Access; Roadside to Resus

So, as we all know, there are loads of presentations that we see in Emergency Medicine that require us to gain rapid access to the circulation. Either to administer medicines around the body or to get fluids into the circulation.

Now there’s a number of different ways we can get them into the circulatory system for them then to get to their sites of action, each of which comes with its pros and cons. There’s buccal, inhaled, intramuscular, sublingual, intranasal etc etc….

But, in the vast majority of cases we gain this access to the vasculature through intravenous access and a peripheral cannula. That means that iv access is a very common procedure in emergency care. The great news is that the equipment is cheap, there are multiple sites for insertion and it’s often feasible regardless of the patients age or presenting complaint. Compared to all the other options for drug administration, iv access and administration of drugs via the IV route, results in 100% bioavailability of all medicines because it avoids the first pass metabolism in the liver, and distribution around the body is rapid because it bypasses the need for absorption into the vasculature.

So that’s all good, so why are we doing an episode on intraosseous access then? Well, iv access and we as clinicians, are not infallible. And as we’re all too aware, gaining IV access can be challenging. There are other patient factors to like iv drug use, the morbidly obese and paediatric patients when everything is just smaller and more unfamiliar. So all of these factors increase the technical difficulty of iv cannulation. If we add to that some of the environmental issues we might find in the prehospital setting - so poor lighting or difficult patient access, it’s not a huge leap to realise that it would be great to have an alternative vascular access option available to a broad range of emergency care providers. And this is where IO access comes in.

So what will we be covering in this episode;

-A recap on the anatomy of bones

-Indications for IO access

-The evidence on IO access and administration

-Insertion site

-Needle selection


-Case examples

Once again we’d love to hear any thoughts or feedback either on the website or via twitter @TheResusRoom.


Simon, Rob & James

The Resus Room


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