Medical Supplies 101: A Quick Guide to Syringes and Needles

According to the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal, over 7.5 billion syringes get used in households each year. Many Americans use syringes and needles to administer prescribed medicine daily.

To use a syringe safely, you need to understand the different types of syringes and needles. You should also understand what to use each type for.

Read on to discover the different types of syringes and needles and how each gets used.

Syringe Types

Syringes have three main components; the barrel, plunger, and tip. The barrel is the cylinder where the medication or blood is gathered. The plunger gets pushed in or pulled out of the barrel to give medicine or take blood.

Types of Syringe Tip

The tip is where the needle attaches to the syringe. Syringes come in many sizes depending on how they get used. Syringes are classified as either Luer-Lock or Non-Luer-Lock.

  • Regular tip (or slip tip) syringes create a secure connection by slipping or pushing a device against the syringe.
  • Lure-Lock tip syringes have a screw-type connection at the tip where a needle gets attached.
  • Eccentric tip syringes get used for surface veins or artery injections. The tip is off-center to reach the vein or artery better.
  • Catheter tip syringes get used with tubing and have long, tapered slip tips.


Medical needles are slender and sharp and get used to puncture the skin or other tissues. They are hollow, so medication or blood can pass through them. They are made out of stainless steel and have four main parts.

  • Hub: The end that gets attached to the syringe
  • Shaft: The thin, hollow, long stem of the needle
  • Bevel: The part that punctures the skin so the rest of the needle can enter
  • Lumen: The hollow hole at the sharp end of the needle

Injection Needle Size Options

Needle sizes are measured by gauge (thickness) and inches (length). They tend to range from one-half inch to around three inches. Needles used for insulin and tuberculin may come in shorter sizes.

As the gauge (G) number increases, the diameter of the needle decreases. Needles range in size from 7G to 33G. Standard needles range in size from 18G to 27G, like this product.

The gauge of the needle gets chosen depending on the medication given. If a medicine is thicker, you need a smaller gauge needle. A shorter needle gets used for injections under the skin, and a longer is used for intramuscular injections.

Needle Length and Injection Type

Needle lengths differ based on the type of injection needed. Shorter needles get used for injections that need to go under the skin. Longer needles get used for deeper injections.

Choosing the Right Types of Syringes and Needles

Understanding how and what you use syringes for will help you choose the right types of syringes and needles. The type of syringe depends on how you are going to use it. Understanding if you need to attach a needle or use it with tubes will help you choose the correct type.

Needles differ in length and size. What you need depends on the type of medication and injection needed.

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Written by Patricia

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