PTCB Test Prep Therapeutics

Syringes and Sterile Compounding!

Apr 14th, 2023
syringes sterile compounding

Compounding and the PTCB Exam

Compounding is an important subject on the PTCB exam – and syringe needles form a core part of any understanding of this subject.

You may be asked questions related to compounding from several different knowledge domains of the PTCB exam.

These include:

  • Medications
  • Pharmacy Math
  • Federal Requirements

There are two types of compounding: sterile and non-sterile compounding.

Some medicines need to be prepared in a sterile environment, to reduce the risk of contamination to the medicine. Therefore, sterile compounding is highly regulated. That’s because the risk to the patient is high if any contaminants are found in the finished product.

Compounding is the act of preparing a patient-specific product – for example: an intravenous or parenteral product that must be prepared in a sterile environment. Technicians should know that USP 797 details the standards that must be adhered to when undertaking sterile compounding.

Part of that compounding knowledge involves syringes and needles. Pharmacy technicians are expected to know the structure and function of the various parts of the syringe and needle, and how to prepare these syringes when required – and to do so safely and according to protocol.

What is a Syringe?

A syringe is a pre-packaged sterile tool that contains neither pyrogen nor endotoxin.

  • Pyrogen – substances produced by bacteria that can induce fever.
  • Endotoxin – toxins released from bacteria when they disintegrate.

Syringes are available in a multitude of sizes. Most syringes available today typically range between 1 mL – 60 mL.

Below, we have put together the structure of both a syringe and needle:

The primary elements of the syringe are:

  • plunger – pressed down for medication to flow through the barrel.
  • barrel – and graduations along the barrel for accurate measurement.
  • syringe tip – that part which connects to the syringe via the hub.
  • flange – that part of the syringe where the barrel is inserted.

The needle is separate to the syringe.

  • The needle is connected to the syringe via the hub (covering the tip) – and, for safety reasons, is packaged within a needle protective cover.
  • The bevel is the very tip of the needle, whereas the lumen is the hollow bore that forms the inside of the needle through which medication flows.

Note that syringes may be used with or without needles.

For example – syringes without needles are effective for oral administration of some medications for some patients. Syringes with needles can be used for parenteral administration, such as intravenous administration.

Practical Understanding of Syringe Needles

The best way to prepare for syringes and sterile compounding of the PTCB test is to practically work with syringes and needles.

However, if this is something you have not yet worked with, you should only do so under guided instruction – from either a tutor, pharmacist, or qualified pharmacy technician. With needles come considerable risk – including the risk of needle-stick injury.

Learning the correct and safe protocol for handling syringe needles is foundational knowledge for every technician.

Take Home Message

Sterile and non-sterile compounding is a core part of the pharmacy technician exam.

It’s also a large subject and involves considerable study. Here, we have zoomed into one small part of that study – namely, syringes and needles.

We learned about how compounding standards are detailed through USP 797; and learned about the structure of both the syringe and the needle, as well as the functions of the various parts. We also learned about the difference between pyrogens and endotoxins, and why sterile products must be free from both.

If you found this review into syringes and sterile compounding helpful, be sure to check back to our PTCB blog soon for more exclusive study reviews to help you succeed at the pharmacy tech exam.

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