CME information and disclosures
To see contributor disclosures related to this article, hover over this reference: 
Physicians may earn CME/MOC credit by searching for an answer to a clinical question on our platform, reading content in this article that addresses that question, and completing an evaluation in which they report the question and the impact of what has been learned on clinical practice.
AMBOSS designates this Internet point-of-care activity for a maximum of 0.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.
For answers to questions about AMBOSS CME, including how to redeem CME/MOC credit, see "Tips and Links" at the bottom of this article.
Intraosseous (IO) access is an alternative route for administering medications, fluids, and blood products when peripheral or central venous access is not readily available. A large bore needle is passed through the bone cortex into the intramedullary space. Fluids and medications delivered through the IO needle are rapidly absorbed in the intramedullary sinusoids and delivered centrally. IO access is indicated whenever resuscitation is deleted by unsuccessful or difficult peripheral IV access. It is especially useful in cardiac arrest, shock, severe dehydration, and extensive burns. Multiple anatomic sites can be used for IO placement, and decision will depend on factors such as patient age and accessibility of the site. The proximal tibia is the most commonly used site. is most commonly achieved using a semiautomatic insertion system. IO access should not be established in a limb with a fracture, infection, burn, or chronic pathologic condition. Complications are rare but include and infection.
A needle that transverses the bone cortex, terminating in the intramedullary space of a bone
- Urgent need for patient resuscitation in the absence of other available or easily obtainable functioning venous access 
- In cardiac arrest, obtain IO access if is unsuccessful after 2–3 attempts OR takes > 90 seconds to establish. 
Avoid in patients with any of the following, unless absolutely necessary: 
- Fracture or previous IO access attempt in the same bone
- Infection or burn at the intended insertion site
- Osteoporosis or osteogenesis imperfecta
- Prosthesis or hardware at insertion site
We list the most important contraindications. The selection is not exhaustive.
Access locations 
- Distal tibia: used for adults
- Proximal tibia: used for both adults and children < 6 years of age
- Other: proximal humerus, sternum
Needles and insertion devices 
Insertion devices are generally preferred over manual needle placement.
- Semiautomatic insertion devices: EZ-IO® system, Bone Injection Gun®, NIO®
- Manual needles: Jamshidi™ needle, Cook intraosseous infusion needle
Landmarks and positioning
- Proximal tibia: flat surface of the bone 2 cm below and 1–2 cm medial to the tibial tuberosity 
- Distal tibia: flat surface of the bone 2 cm above the medial malleolus 
- Proximal humerus: center of the greater tubercle, 1 cm superior to the surgical neck of the humerus 
- Distal femur: 2–3 cm proximal to the femoral condyles at the midline of the femur 
- Sterile gloves and PPE
- Sterile drape
- Antiseptic solution (e.g., chlorhexidine)
- Local anesthetic solution (e.g., 1% or 2% lidocaine)
- Syringe and small gauge needle for local anesthetic
- 10 mL syringe
- IO insertion driver device (manual or semiautomatic)
- Associated appropriately-sized IO needle
- Associated primed extension set, if applicable
- Needle stabilizing device 
- Sterile dressing
- Support the leg in a comfortable position.
- Clean dirt and debris from the insertion site.
- Identify insertion landmarks.
- Choose the appropriate IO needle length. 
- 15 mm (pink): patient weight 3–39 kg
- 25 mm (blue): patient weight ≥ 40 kg
- 45 mm (yellow): significant overlying tissue
- to create a .
- Apply a sterile drape.
IO insertion using semiautomatic system in adults 
Commonly used semiautomatic IO insertion systems include the EZ-IO® system.
- Administer skin and periosteum in conscious patients. to the
- Attach an appropriately sized IO needle to the automated driver.
- Manually advance the needle (without using the trigger) at 90° through the skin until it touches bone.
- Activate the driver by pressing the trigger and push gently downward until a loss of resistance is felt.
- Grasp the needle and remove the driver.
- Remove the stylet with a counterclockwise motion.
- Attach the needle stabilizing device.
- If applicable, attach the associated extension set and aspirate.
- Slowly administer 2% lidocaine if the patient is in pain. 
- Flush the needle with 5–10 mL of saline.
- Apply a sterile dressing.
Remove the IO needle within 24 hours of insertion to minimize the risk of complications.
- Attach a Luer-Lok syringe to the needle.
- Pull it out straight while rotating it clockwise.
Do not rock the needle during removal.
Resistance to fluid flow 
- Penetration into the opposite cortex (most common mistake) : Withdraw the needle 1–2 mm and recheck fluid flow.
- Incomplete penetration of the cortex : Replace the stylet and advance the needle until bone marrow can be aspirated.
- Obstruction of the needle : Flush IO access frequently and after every medication administration with 3–5 mL of saline. 
- Ensure the IO needle is in the correct position.
- Examine for cortical injury, e.g., fracture, previous IO access attempt, widening of IO access site.
- Pain 
Easy bone marrow aspiration, minimal resistance to a fluid flush, stability of the needle in the bone, and no evidence of suggest correct IO access placement.