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Parenteral administration of a drug uses a means of administration that introduces the dose directly into the body, bypassing digestion, skin absorption, inhalation, etc. Most commonly, some type of injection is used for parenteral therapy, either through a hypodermic syringe or intravenous catheter.

Injection routes include:

  • intradermal: in the surface layer of the skin
  • subcutaneous: below the surface of the skin, but not in muscle or a blood vessel
  • intramuscular: into muscle tissue
  • intravenous: into a vein, often using an indwelling catheter for prolonged therapy
  • intrathecal: through a lumbar puncture into the cerebrospinal fluid

Drugs, including radioisotopes, may be inserted during surgery.