Aspirating air bubble from the IV line


Scenario - Patient is connected to IV via IV pump . After few minutes of IV infusion, IV pump beeps " Air in line". How could the nurse aspirate the air bubble via needleless syringe without disconnecting the IV from patient? Could anyone please explain it step by step so that I can visualize the process?



54 Posts

Scrub hub, hook up an empty 10cc syringe to a port below the air. Clamp the line below the syringe (between syringe and patient), take the line out of the pump, then aspirate until you have the bubbles. Put the line back in the pump and restart the infusion.

Specializes in Med surg/ tele, LDRP. Has 8 years experience.

^yup, what 1OhioNurse said


249 Posts

Just make sure you clamp the line below where you are sucking out the air or you will suck blood back up into the line 😳😳😳😳every new grad does that at least once right?!?!

1OhioNurse hit the nail on the head. In cases when you don't have your 10cc syringe handy, I'm sometimes successful removing the line from the pump and finger-flicking the bubbles back to the bag. Sometimes you just have to remove from patient and re-prime though. 10cc syringe method is my method of choice.

"Air in line" irritates me terribly, regardless of how it is addressed!


56 Posts

Thanks everyone. Thanks 1ohionurse for explaining every step and thanks biotobsn for explaining the rationale for clamping the tubing below the port :)


861 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg. Has 4 years experience.

When our pumps beep for air in the line, it's usually at the cartridge. I back prime into the secondary. If there's no secondary, an empty 10cc syringe works well.

Specializes in Med surg/ tele, LDRP. Has 8 years experience.

I also back prime which is easier than the syringe but when there is just a primary i try flicking it at the cartridge and if that fails then the syringe.


1,049 Posts

Specializes in Vascular Access. Has 32 years experience.

IMO, the key here is to go slow with priming the IV tubing. Once the bag is spiked, and the drip chamber 1/3-1/2 full, purge the tubing of air, but do so all-the-while observing the fluid being purged and you will have little to no bubbles. Purging quickly can increase the formation of air bubbles. And yes, I've seen many use the syringe method to rid the tubing of air, but then I worry about bacterial introduction. Therefore, prevention is the KEY!


56 Posts

I don't have problems while priming the tubing for the first time but when I reuse the tubing to hang the next IV I have air bubble problem I try to prime it by disconnecting it from patient but after a while pump keeps beeping. I don't like to disconnect the IV from the patient and just drain the IV medicine as I will be wasting the medicine at the same time I don't want the air bubble as I hate to see bubbles in my IV.

Ayvah, RN

722 Posts

Specializes in Med Surg, Specialty. Has 10 years experience.

All you have to do is set the maintenance IV pump to have slightly less volume than is actually there. For example, don't set the pump to 1000mL, set it to 950 or 975. That way the pump will beep before it fully empties and gets air in it.