SERS Tubing Developed for IV Drug Administration Safety

May 21, 2014

May 21, 2014

A bioengineering team led by Brian Cunningham from the University of Illinois successfully developed biomedical tubing that uses surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) to keep track of the drug components and concentrations flowing within a patient’s intravenous (IV) line. This breakthrough SERS tubing demonstrated huge potential in clinical applications for real-time drug delivery monitoring and point-of-care detection.

sers-tubing.pngSERS has previously been used to monitor IV drug administration, but this research pioneered the integration of plasmonic nanodome array (PNA) surface into the system. The PNA surface was able to boost the Raman signal magnitude by an average factor of 5×108, which is significantly higher than SERS surfaces available in the market today. Now, IV medications can be monitored at a lower range than normally prescribed doses.

In the span of five days, the SERS tubing was also able to detect ten pharmaceutical compounds with reproducible signals, namely: dopamine, diltiazem, hydrocodone, levorphanol, methadone, mitoxantrone, morphine, oxycodone, phenobarbital, and promethazine. Results showed that the signal magnitudes of four out of these ten drugs relied on the drug concentration levels and at the same time, identified the compound combinations. This innovative SERS tubing also allows for clinicians to gain a more detailed visual of a patient’s IV medication.

Duncan Graham, a SERS specialist at the University of Strathclyde in the UK, shared his fascination with the “excellent sensitivity and reproducibility” of the device. He also added that since common plastic tubing is used, the SERS tubing offers a relatively compact and economical IV drug delivery solution that could potentially be employed in actual clinical settings as a single-use instrument.

On the other hand, Cunningham explained, “A current limitation is that combinations of drugs result in complex Raman spectra with some overlapping peaks, particularly for drugs that have similar molecular structures.” He concluded that further work is on the line to develop broader sets of multiple drug combinations, as well as to miniaturize the detection device.

U.S. statistics showed that 60% of serious, life-threatening errors during hospitalization were accounted for inaccurate dosages or incorrect combinations of IV medications. Clinical innovations like the SERS tubing that can closely detect and monitor drug delivery in real time go a long mile in ensuring highly satisfactory patient care and maintaining IV medication safety system. Using these advanced devices in conjunction with high caliber IV pump systems then further optimizes overall patient care.

AIV offers medical-grade IV pump solutions, replacement parts, clinical accessories, and repair services for leading manufacturers. To view our comprehensive line of IV pump products and services, visit

About the Author

Laura Collier

Laura Collier

Laura Collier has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Florida. She is the Marketing Manager at AIV, Inc.

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