Subcutaneous Infusion of Fluids for Hydration or Nutrition: A Review

Riccardo Caccialanza, Thierry Constans, Paolo Cotogni, Gary P. Zaloga, Alessandro Pontes-Arruda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Subcutaneous infusion, or hypodermoclysis, is a technique whereby fluids are infused into the subcutaneous space via small-gauge needles that are typically inserted into the thighs, abdomen, back, or arms. In this review, we provide an overview of the technique, summarize findings from studies that have examined the use of subcutaneous infusion of fluids for hydration or nutrition, and describe the indications, advantages, and disadvantages of subcutaneous infusion. Taken together, the available evidence suggests that, when indicated, subcutaneous infusion can be effective for administering fluids for hydration or nutrition, with minimal complications, and has similar effectiveness and safety to the intravenous route. Of note, subcutaneous infusion offers several advantages over intravenous infusion, including ease of application, low cost, and the lack of potential serious complications, particularly infections. Subcutaneous infusion may be particularly suited for patients with mild to moderate dehydration or malnutrition when oral/enteral intake is insufficient; when placement of an intravenous catheter is not possible, tolerated, or desirable; at risk of dehydration when oral intake is not tolerated; as a bridging technique in case of difficult intravenous access or catheter-related bloodstream infection while infection control treatment is being attempted; and in multiple settings (eg, emergency department, hospital, outpatient clinic, nursing home, long-term care, hospice, and home).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-307
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2018


  • fluid therapy
  • geriatrics
  • hydration
  • hypodermoclysis
  • infusions, subcutaneous
  • palliative care
  • supplemental parenteral nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Subcutaneous Infusion of Fluids for Hydration or Nutrition: A Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this