What Is a Hamilton Syringe?

S. Berger

A Hamilton syringe is one of the syringes manufactured by the Hamilton company. These syringes are not intended for human uses such as injecting insulin or administering vaccines. Instead, they are meant to help researchers perform a variety of common laboratory procedures. Accordingly, there are a wide variety of Hamilton syringes, which are specifically designed for a single purpose.

A Hamilton syringe may be fitted with a filter to for procedures such as HPLC.
A Hamilton syringe may be fitted with a filter to for procedures such as HPLC.

Many disposable syringes are manufactured from plastic and only intended for one-time use. In the laboratory, some procedures, such as high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography (GC) are performed frequently, making a reusable syringe more cost-effective. For this reason, the Hamilton syringe meant for HPLC and GC are made from glass. Glass syringes can be autoclaved to sterilize and clean them after use. Also, the glass surface makes the syringes airtight, so that volatile compounds can be delivered to an HPLC or GC device without gases escaping.

Hamilton syringes are not intended for injecting insulin.
Hamilton syringes are not intended for injecting insulin.

Some types of the Hamilton syringe are intended to be used with certain sampling devices. These syringes can be manufactured to automatically take up and dispense specific volumes of liquid, without the user having to measure the amount. Other manual syringes leave it up to the user's discretion as to how much liquid is sampled. These syringes may have removable needles, to ensure that cross-contamination does not occur between the sample source and the device.

In the life sciences, there is often a need for syringes to administer compounds to animals, or to take blood samples. Dependent on the use and injection site, different varieties of Hamilton syringe may be deemed appropriate. Disposable syringes with different gauges of needle are used for mice and rats, to account for differences in the size of each species' veins.

There is a need for a specialized Hamilton syringe for implanting embryos in research. Implantation syringes typically have small volumes, to ensure a more accurate view of the volume. Unlike many syringes that use a plunger, implantation syringes have a wheel assembly. The wheel allows precise uptake of small volumes of liquid, and the wheel locks at a given volume. The locking mechanism prevents the user from taking up more liquid than is necessary for the procedure.

Researchers that perform gel electrophoresis, a procedure that can analyze molecular weight, must load samples into several wells. For this purpose, an assembly of several syringes is used. The user can preset the volume of liquid to load and dispense, and perform these actions simultaneously for all syringes. Such an assembly makes the process of loading gels more rapid and accurate.

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