What Is a Toomey Syringe?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A Toomey&tmark; syringe is used for irrigating and evacuating during medical procedures. The basic syringe has a blunt tip which can be fitted with a cap or used as-is. This design can also be useful for activities like tube feeding, where it can be snapped onto the tube to deliver a nutrition bolus. Medical supply companies make a range of sizes with interchangeable tips for different applications, and they are available over the counter in many regions.

Heparin may be administered when a patient is at risk of developing a blood clot.
Heparin may be administered when a patient is at risk of developing a blood clot.

Some designs include a loop on the plunger to allow a medical provider to use it one-handed, which can free up the other hand for other tasks. Others have features like a clip that will lock the syringe once the plunger is pulled back to maintain suction. This can be important when someone is evacuating or aspirating a site and doesn’t want to inadvertently lose suction and force liquid out of the syringe.

Emergency rooms frequently use Toomey syringes to clean wounds before closing them.
Emergency rooms frequently use Toomey syringes to clean wounds before closing them.

For irrigation, the Toomey&tmark; syringe can be filled with water, saline, or other materials and used to gently clean a site. Medical practitioners can control the amount of fluid and pressure with the plunger to flush out wounds, removing dirt, debris, and other undesirable components. Emergency rooms and operating rooms frequently rely on this equipment to clean wounds before closing them. Patients performing wound care at home may also be taught how to use a Toomey&tmark; syringe for some applications.

A Toomey syringe is often used for irrigating dirt and debris from minor wounds.
A Toomey syringe is often used for irrigating dirt and debris from minor wounds.

By changing the tip of the syringe, a variety of tasks may be performed. Some can be fitted with tips to lock onto catheters and other syringes, for example. Others can be attached to trocars, short tubes with sharpened edges designed for insertion into the body, for procedures like liposuction. The Toomey&tmark; syringe can be used to carefully control the amount of material removed from the site, with a lock to keep the contents in the syringe.

Toomey syringes are commonly found in operating rooms.
Toomey syringes are commonly found in operating rooms.

In tube feeding, patients or care providers can open the cap on the tube and attach a Toomey&tmark; syringe filled with a nutritional mixture. By gently depressing the plunger, they force the mixture into the tube. Syringes can also be used to irrigate tubes and catheters with saline or heparin flushes to prevent clotting and keep them clean.

Cancer patients may have their chemotherapy catheters flushed using a Toomey syringe.
Cancer patients may have their chemotherapy catheters flushed using a Toomey syringe.

These medical products are usually sold in bulk, although they can come individually packaged to make it easier to sterilize them for use in settings like the operating room. Patients who need Toomey&tmark; syringes for tube feeding, home wound care, and similar activities may receive an initial supply from their doctors. If they need to use them for a longer period of time, it may be necessary to buy them from a drug store or medical supplier.

While most home users prefer a neti pot, a Toomey syringe is also often used to flush congested nasal passages.
While most home users prefer a neti pot, a Toomey syringe is also often used to flush congested nasal passages.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

Sporkasia
The husband of one of my friends had surgery. When he was released, my friend was concerned about caring for his wound at home. She didn't have any experience caring for wounds and she was concerned she might not do a good job and her husband would get an infection and have to return to the hospital for further treatment.

The nurses at the hospital instructed her on how to care for the wound, and stressed that keeping it clean was very important. The nurses also introduced her to the Toomey syringe. Once she got her husband home, she was able to use the syringe to keep the wound clean and the task was much easier than she had anticipated. Her husband healed quickly, with no complications.

Animandel

One of the most appealing aspects of the Toomey syringe is that it is easy to use. Nurses and medical staff who work with medical devices and medical equipment daily can adapt to the most complicated devices, but simplicity is always appreciated, especially when time is a factor.

Maybe even more important is that the people who are not accustomed to working with medical devices can be taught to use this syringe in a short time in most cases. This makes caring for a loved one or for oneself outside of a medical facility less complicated.

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