A common question that comes up in medical settings is “How much is 1 cc on a syringe?”. Understanding syringe measurements is important for accurately administering medications and fluids. Keep reading to learn more about what 1 cc equals and how syringe measurements work.
What Does “cc” Stand For?
“Cc” stands for cubic centimeters. A centimeter is a metric unit of length equal to 0.01 meters or about 0.4 inches. A cubic centimeter is the volume of a cube with sides 1 centimeter in length. In the medical field, cc is a standard unit of measurement for syringe volumes and medication dosages.
1 cc is Equal to 1 mL
When referring to syringes, 1 cc is equivalent to 1 mL. “mL” stands for milliliter, which is also a metric unit of volume. There are 1000 mL in 1 liter. Since 1 mL takes up the space of a 1 cm cubed, 1 cc = 1 mL.
Some key equivalents to remember:
- 1 cc = 1 mL
- 1 mL = 1 cm3
So on a syringe, the markings for cc’s and mL’s are identical and interchangeable. If a syringe is marked to 1 cc, it also means it is marked to 1 mL.
1 cc is a Small Amount of Fluid Volume
To understand the size of 1 cc, here are some helpful comparisons:
- 1 cc is equal to about 20 drops of liquid
- 1 cc is just over half a teaspoon (0.55 teaspoons)
- 1 cc takes up the same space as 1 mL or 1 gram of water
As you can see, 1 cc is a tiny amount of fluid volume, especially when compared to household measurements like teaspoons and tablespoons. This demonstrates the precision required when measuring medications with a syringe.
Typical Syringe Sizes
Syringes come in a wide range of sizes for different medical purposes. Here are some of the most common syringe sizes:
|Syringe Size||Amount in cc/mL|
|1 cc syringe||Up to 1 cc/mL|
|3 cc syringe||Up to 3 cc/mL|
|5 cc syringe||Up to 5 cc/mL|
|10 cc syringe||Up to 10 cc/mL|
|20 cc syringe||Up to 20 cc/mL|
|30 cc syringe||Up to 30 cc/mL|
|60 cc syringe||Up to 60 cc/mL|
1 cc syringes are commonly used for small injections and precise measurement of medications. 5 cc, 10 cc, and 20 cc syringes can administer larger volumes for procedures like intravenous (IV) infusions. 60 cc syringes tend to be used for irrigation and suctioning fluids.
Reading the Markings on a 1 cc Syringe
Looking closely at the scale on a 1 cc syringe barrel allows you to see how precisely it measures volume:
- Major markings are at each 0.1 cc or 0.1 mL
- Minor markings between are at each 0.01 cc or 0.01 mL
So the smallest measurement is 0.01 cc or 0.01 mL. Each mark is an increment of 0.01 up to the full 1 cc volume. This level of precision is important for measuring and administering small doses of medication accurately.
Proper Syringe Technique
Using proper technique when drawing up medications into a syringe is critical for patient safety. Here are some best practices to follow:
- Always verify the medication name and dose before preparing it in a syringe.
- Carefully insert the needle into the medication vial.
- Pull back on the plunger slowly and smoothly to draw up the correct amount.
- Tap the syringe to release air bubbles and push them back into the vial.
- Double check the syringe for accuracy before administering it.
- Inject slowly and steadily in the proper site as directed.
Following these steps helps prevent dosing errors and accidental needle sticks. Check your hospital or clinic’s policies for preparing and administering injections.
IV Infusion with a 10 cc Syringe
Larger syringes like 10 cc are often used for IV infusions. For example, a physician may order an IV medication to infuse over a certain timeframe. This requires calculating the infusion rate.
Let’s look at an example. A patient is prescribed 500 mg of an antibiotic to infuse over 30 minutes. The medication comes in a vial labeled 250 mg/10 mL. Using a 10 cc syringe, how would you set up the infusion?
- Calculate the total volume needed. If 250 mg is in 10 mL, then 500 mg will be in 20 mL.
- Withdraw 20 mL of the medication into the 10 cc syringe.
- Set up the IV tubing and infusion pump.
- Program the pump to deliver the 20 mL syringe over 30 minutes.
- This provides an infusion rate of 20 mL/30 min = 0.67 mL/min.
Always double check medication dose, volumes, and infusion rates for safety. An IV infusion pump can help regulate flow rates.
Insulin Syringes and Small Doses
Insulin syringes are specialized for measuring and delivering very small, precise doses of insulin. These syringes are designed with ultra-fine markings and small volumes. A typical insulin syringe size is either 0.3 cc (30 unit) or 0.5 cc (50 unit).
Insulin dosing is measured in units instead of volume. However, the syringe still shows markings in cc’s or mL’s. It’s important to understand the equivalence:
- 1 unit = 0.01 mL = 0.01 cc
- So 10 units = 0.1 mL = 0.1 cc
The tiny increments on an insulin syringe allow for dosing by single units. This level of precision helps achieve tight blood glucose control.
Tips for Using Insulin Syringes
- Always recheck the dose before injecting insulin
- Rotate injection sites to prevent skin changes
- Tap the syringe to bring air bubbles to the top
- Inject at a 90 degree angle for proper absorption
Healthcare providers can educate patients on proper insulin syringe use to improve compliance and prevent complications.
Syringes for Pediatric Patients
Children require much smaller medication doses than adults. Therefore, very small syringe sizes are made specifically for pediatric patients.
Common syringe sizes used for infants and children include:
- 0.5 cc syringes
- 1 cc syringes
- 3 cc syringes
- 5 cc syringes
However, even smaller syringes such as 0.2 cc and 0.3 cc can be used for premature infants. Pediatric syringes have extra graduations that allow for more precise measurement of tiny doses.
To prevent medication errors, it’s critical to use a properly sized pediatric syringe. Confirm the dose with another nurse or practitioner before administering.
Oral Syringes for Infants and Children
Oral syringes make it easier to administer liquid oral medications to infants and children. They have a short tip designed not to puncture soft tissues in the mouth.
Pediatric oral syringes are available in small volumes like 1 cc, 3 cc, 5 cc, and 10 cc. Always match the syringe size to the prescribed medication dose. Using the syringe markings, draw up the exact amount.
To give an oral syringe safely:
- Place the tip inside the cheek pouch
- Slowly depress the plunger over 5-10 seconds
- Keep the syringe tip in place until swallowing is complete
This prevents choking and ensures the child receives the full medication dose. Oral syringes take the guesswork out of getting children to swallow their medicines.
How Syringe Size Affects Injection Force
An important consideration in choosing a syringe is the amount of force needed to depress the plunger. Smaller syringes require more force due to greater resistance from viscosity and surface tension.
For example, it takes about 2-3 times more force to depress a 1 cc syringe than a 5 cc syringe. The force difference is even greater between 1 cc and 10 cc syringes.
This increased resistance makes injections more difficult to administer smoothly, especially for pediatric or elderly patients with small muscles and joints. Using too much pressure can cause tissue damage.
When possible, select a larger syringe size to reduce injection force. However, always adhere to prescribed doses. In some cases, needle gauge changes can also lower resistance.
Maximum Volume for Different Syringe Sizes
While syringe barrels have volume markings up to their maximum capacity, it is not recommended to fill them completely full. Leave a small amount of space to make it easier to prepare and administer doses accurately.
As a guideline, fill syringes to around 80-90% of their total volume for ideal use:
|Syringe Size||Total Volume||Recommended Fill Volume|
|1 cc||1 cc / 1 mL||0.8 – 0.9 cc / mL|
|3 cc||3 cc / 3 mL||2.4 – 2.7 cc / mL|
|5 cc||5 cc / 5 mL||4 – 4.5 cc / mL|
|10 cc||10 cc / 10 mL||8 – 9 cc / mL|
Leaving some empty space allows for handling the syringe and pushing out air bubbles. Never overfill syringes past their maximum markings.
Standard Needle Gauges for Syringes
Needle gauge refers to the width of a syringe needle. Gauge sizes commonly used with syringes include:
- 22G needle – Very fine needle often used for insulin injections
- 25G needle – Often used for small volume injections
- 21G needle – Versatile for injecting medications into muscles or subcutaneous tissue
- 18G needle – Larger bore for viscous fluids or infusions
The higher the gauge number, the smaller the needle width. Choose a needle gauge appropriate for the injection type, medication viscosity, and patient factors.
Using the smallest viable needle helps minimize pain and tissue damage. Always attach the needle firmly to prevent leaking or disconnection.
Disposing of Used Syringes and Needles
After administering an injection, proper sharps disposal is critical for safety:
- Do not try to recap needles
- Discard uncapped needles and syringes directly into a sharps container
- Close container lids securely when not in active use
- Seal and dispose of containers according to biomedical waste policies
Never attempt to bend, break, or reuse needles. Appropriate sharps disposal helps prevent transmission of blood-borne illnesses and needlestick injuries.
- 1 cc is equal to 1 mL – both refer to the volume of a 1 cm cubed space
- 1 cc is a very small amount of fluid volume
- Syringes come in many sizes but 1 cc and 3 cc are commonly used
- Always measure doses precisely and administer medications carefully
- Proper syringe disposal is crucial for infection control
Understanding syringe volume measurements allows healthcare providers to safely deliver injected and intravenous medications. While 1 cc is a tiny amount, giving the right dose and volume is critical for positive patient outcomes.