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How to Choose an Intramuscular Injection Site?

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Updated April 07, 2014

Question: How to Choose an Intramuscular Injection Site?
Answer: Four sites can be used to give an intramuscular injection. Choosing the proper site is necessary for proper absorption of the medicine and avoidance of injury. Use a site on your body that has a large, easily markable muscle and has little fatty tissue covering it.

Make sure to palpate the muscle before doing the injection to make sure that the muscle can support the medication to be delivred. As always, if your healthcare provider recommends a particular muscle or site, use that site.

  • Deltoid Muscle: The deltoid muscle is located in the upper arm, just below the shoulder. To mark this site, place the palm of your hand on the shoulder and spread your thumb from the other 4 fingers in an upside down V shape. Make sure that the middle of the arm is centered in your V. You will want to give the injection into the middle of the V.
  • Vastus Lateralis Muscle: This muscle is located in the thigh. To properly mark this muscle, divide the front of the thigh into thirds from the top to the bottom of the thigh. The needle should go into the middle third.
  • Ventrogluteal Muscle: This muscle is located in the hip. To mark this site, have the person lie on their back. You should stand facing their hips. Place the heel of your hand so that your wrist is lined up with the thigh, the thumb is pointed toward the groin and the fingers are pointed toward the head. You should feel the border of a bony area along the ring finger and pinkie. Spread your pointer finger and middle finger into a V and give the injection between those fingers.
  • Dorsogluteal Muscle: This is the large muscle in the backside. Divide one buttock into quadrants, halfway down the middle and halfway across. You will always want to give the injection in the outer, upper quadrant, almost toward the hip.
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