6 Common Types of IV Pumps (With Brand Examples)

by Sara Alvarado

Updated February 23, 2024
If you’ve received infusion therapy more than once as a patient or are a professional working in a hospital, you know there are different types of IV pumps.

These types can vary in design, the volume of fluid delivered, the mode of fluid delivery, and how they operate.

Despite these differences, all types of infusion pumps have the same function. They deliver medication and nutritive fluids directly into the patient's circulatory system with enhanced safety and accuracy under controlled conditions.

The list of infusion pump types is long, and some are more common than others. This article has 6 of the most common types of IV pumps, with a brand example of each type.

Let’s start with the oldest and simplest of IV pump types.

1. Gravity Infusion Pump

Types of IV Pumps
Gravity infusion pumps are the predecessors of modern-day IV pumps. They consist of an infusion bag or bottle placed on a clamp above the patient. The bag is attached to an infusion set, and the pressure created by gravity drives fluid from the bag through an infusion tubing that connects to the vascular access device on the patient.

The clinician can count the drops from the reservoir bag in the drip chamber, and the roller clamp adjusts the tubing to control fluid flow to the patient.

Gravity IV pumps don’t have the precision of other programmable IV pumps. Any change in tube length or patient movement can disturb the flow rate. As such, they are best when used with drugs where the flow rate is not critical and minor alterations will not cause adverse effects to the patient.

However, compared to pumps that operate by the peristaltic mechanism, gravity pumps are less susceptible to subvisible particle generation in the drug fluid.

Healthcare facilities usually purchase gravity IV administration sets to connect to fluid or medication bags. These sets can come in different designs, like those produced by the B. Braun manufacturer.

2. Syringe Pumps

How Does an IV Pump Work
Syringe IV pumps are small-volume pumps used to deliver medications to patients in small dosages.

In simple models, the syringe hangs above the pump and is connected to an infusion system and IV line. A piston in the syringe moves fluid mechanically to the IV tubing and straight to the patient’s body.

Syringe pumps are comparable in accuracy and precision to other IV pumps used in healthcare facilities today.

Typical syringe IV pumps are compatible with a range of syringe sizes, ranging between 1mL and 60mL volume sizes.

Among the latest models in syringe infusion pumps is the BD Alaris™ Syringe Module which has precise flow rates of 0.01mL/hr to 999 mL/hr and allows syringe flexibility.

3. Volumetric Infusion Pumps

Autoinfu IV Infusion Pump
A volumetric infusion pump is any IV pump that delivers fluids and medications to the patient in large volumes. Specifically, these pumps can infuse fluids, drugs, blood, or blood products in volumes ranging between 1mL/hr to 999mL/hr or even higher.

The unique thing about volumetric pumps is that they provide continuous drug and fluid delivery in either very slow flow rates for long durations or very fast flow rates in a short time. They have high accuracy and are equipped with safety alarm systems in case of air in the line or pump malfunction.

A great example of a volumetric infusion pump is the Autoinfu Infusion Pump, which allows an infusion rate of up to 1000mL/hr.

4. Patient-controlled Analgesia Pumps (PCA)

Types of IV Pumps
Patient-controlled analgesia pumps are programmed to deliver pain management medication in controlled doses. You’ll find them in both hospital and home-based care.

In home-based care, the patient carries a pump with a reservoir containing the analgesia and presses a button to send pain medication through an IV set to the bloodstream when required.

In hospital settings, PCAs are common among patients with chronic diseases or those recovering from surgery to self-administer pain relievers as required without having to call a nurse every time.

The CURLIN PainSmart IOD patient-controlled analgesia pump by MOOG Medical presents a super portable device for pain management with built-in drug dosages for patient safety.

5. Ambulatory Infusion Pumps

ambulatory infusion pump
Ambulatory infusion pumps deliver drugs to patients from syringes or small IV reservoirs. They are ambulatory because they come in small portable sizes, making them perfect for patients to carry around in a bag.

Ambulatory infusion pumps deliver drugs such as antibiotics and chemotherapy medications. They require batteries to run.

Just like the PCA infusion pumps, ambulatory pumps are programmed to deliver medications at set intervals over a specific timeframe. Patients using this type of IV pump can go on with their daily activities without needing to be hospitalized for infusion therapy.

The CADD-Solis VIP™ by Icumed is an excellent example of an ambulatory infusion pump. The infusion pump is specifically designed for homecare and supports patient mobility with its portable design and easy-to-use interface, allowing up to five different delivery modes.

6. Elastomeric Infusion Pumps

Types of IV Pumps
Elastomeric or balloon IV pumps are single-use pumps with predetermined drug volume. They have a balloon drug container that contracts to send medication from the reservoir to the patient’s body through an attached tubing.

The medication inside elastomeric pump reservoirs can be antibiotics, pain relievers, chemotherapy drugs, or local anesthetics.

B. Braun’s Easypump® ST/LT is an example of how easy-to-use elastomeric pumps can be in both hospital and home-based care.

Other less common IV pumps include specialized insulin pumps designed for diabetic patients.

7. Concluding Thoughts

There are different types of IV pumps used in healthcare facilities and home-based patient care. These pumps have different designs and deliver drugs and fluids to patients in different modes and volume rates. The pumps also operate in different ways.

Despite the differences, common types of IV pumps have the same function. They deliver fluids and medications straight into the patient’s cardiovascular system under controlled conditions and safety and accuracy precautions.
Article by
Sara Alvarado
Greetings, I'm Sara, a dedicated nurse and a proud contributor to the AutoInfu blog. With my firsthand experience in the world of infusion pumps, I'm here to provide you with the latest insights, expert advice, and essential updates to ensure you stay informed about the infusion pump industry.

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