How to Break Open an Ampoule Vial

An ampoule is a glass vial that must be broken open.
An ampoule is a glass vial that must be broken open. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

An ampoule is a hermetically-sealed glass vial that contains medication or chemicals. To use the medication inside, the ampoule must be broken. The fluid can then be drawn out with a syringe. This is an easy process. However, opening an ampoule incorrectly can cause injury or waste the medication.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel or thick gauze
  • Sharps container

Wash your hands or apply hand sanitizer. Clean hands are less likely to introduce bacteria into the ampoule after it has been opened.

Wrap gauze, a paper towel or a small cloth around the neck of the ampoule. If it does not break cleanly, the cloth will protect your skin from injury.

Hold the vial away from you as you prepare to break off the top of the ampoule. Hold the bottom of the ampoule with one hand, and the top with the other.

Applying even pressure and snap the top off. Hold it away from your body to avoid airborne glass shards if the ampoule does not break cleanly.

Discard the top of the ampoule in a sharps container. The bottom that contains the medicine or chemicals is now ready for use. After the medication has been drawn out with a syringe, the bottom of the ampoule can be discarded in the sharps container as well.

Tips & Warnings

  • Tap the sides of the ampoule if there is fluid above the neck line. This should eliminate air bubbles.
  • If the ampoule shatters when you try to open it, do not use the medication.

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