Aspiration in injections: Should we continue or abandon the practice?

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Aspiration during any kind of injection is meant to ensure that the needle tip is at the desired location during this blind procedure. While aspiration appears to be a simple procedure, it has generated a lot of controversy concerning the perceived benefits and indications. Advocates and opponents of aspiration both make logically sound claims. However, due to scarcity of available data, there is no evidence that this procedure is truly beneficial or unwarranted. Keeping in view the huge number of injections given worldwide, it is important that we draw attention to key questions regarding aspiration that, up till now, remain unanswered. In this review, we have attempted to gather and present literature on aspiration both from published and non-published sources in order to provide not only an exhaustive review of the subject, but also a starting point for further studies on more specific areas requiring clarification. A literature review was conducted using the US National Institute of Health’s PubMed service (including Medline), Google Scholar and Scopus. Guidelines provided by the World Health Organization, Safe Injection Global Network, International Council of Nursing, Center for Disease Control, US Federal Drug Agency, UK National Health Services, British Medical Association, Europe Nursing and Midwifery Council, Public Health Agency Canada, Pakistan Medical Association and International Organization of Standardization recommendations 7886 parts 1-4 for sterile hypodermics were reviewed for relevant information. In addition, curricula of several medical/nursing schools from India, Nigeria and Pakistan, the US pharmacopeia Data from the WHO Program for International Drug Monitoring network in regard to adverse events as a result of not aspirating prior to injection delivery were reviewed. Curricula of selected major medical/nursing schools in India, Nigeria and Pakistan, national therapeutic formularies, product inserts of most commonly used drugs and other possible sources of information regarding aspiration and injections were consulted as well.

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