The first documentation of a device of IV fluids was in 1658, when a physiologist named Christopher Wren used a quill from a feather and a pig’s bladder to create an IV infusion device to instill a mixture of wine, ale, opium, and liver of antimony into a vein.
However, the British Royal Society, out of fear of adverse reactions, then banned the use of IV therapy for over 100 years.
Then in the late 1700s, doctors began performing direct IV infusions on women who hemorrhaged during childbirth. Their husband’s blood would be extracted with a syringe and injected directly into their wife. This showed great success, and an article was published with the results.
In the 1800s, during a cholera epidemic, Dr. Thomas Latta performed the first IV injection of a saline (saltwater) solution. He witnessed a “miracle” recovery of a dehydrated patient who he thought would die, but the patient rapidly recovered and survived. Dr. Latta went on to save dozens of other patients from this epidemic.
Many scientists and doctors then worked on different IV fluids and solutions over the years, but IV fluids were not widely used until the 1950s. In those days, a re-usable steel needle was used.
Later, a new disposable metal needle with an inner removable core was invented (the Angiocath). It wasn’t until the 1960s that disposable plastics became available for IV tubing. These inventions changed the administration of IV fluids forever.
Today, more than one million bags of IV fluid are given each day in the United States to treat dehydration.