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Difference Between Ampoule and Vial

What are Ampoule and Vial?

Both Ampoules and Vials require reconstitution. Ampules and vials can be seen on the shelves of pharmaceutical laboratories or chemistry-based laboratories. Both categories of vessels play a significant role in storing and preserving liquids, medicinal fluids, medicinal capsules and other similar contents, typically for pharmaceutical purposes. These are used to mix medicines in order to be delivered to a patient. Although both the storage containers refer to glass or sometimes plastic containers, they benefit from several different designs and serve different purposes.


What is Ampoule?

An ampule, or ampoule, is a tiny single dosage vial with a sealed neck. Ampoules could be of glass or plastic. Mostly, they are of glass. The neck of an ampoule is sealed using an open flame in order to prevent contamination. This leads to an airtight obstruction for prevention of air, moisture and water from contaminating the liquid inside the ampoule.

The seal is unfastened by cracking the top off the neck, that causes a tidy and hassle-free break without any additional glass shards or slivers. Ampoules cannot be reused and once the sealed neck is snapped off to have access to the pharmacy drug or any other stored liquid or solid, it is thrown away. However, once opened, the content can be stored into a sealed sterile vial or into slim pins.

What is Vial?

Vial is a broader term as compared to an ampoule. Vial is a small multi-dose container that can hold serums, liquid drugs and other compounds used mostly in the medical industry. It is typically made of glass and may or may not be sealed. Vial, in the form of container possesses a screw on cap or a rubber plug. In some cases, the top of the vial possesses dropper to estimate the liquid to retrieve. Vial has a flat base so that it can be rested on a flat surface or on the counter.

Closure systems are of different types. For glass vials, screw cap is used. For lip vials, cork or plastic stopper and for crimp vials, a rubber stopper and a metal cap are usually used. In case of a Plastic vial, hinge caps (flip-flops or snap caps), are used.


Difference between Ampoule and Vial

  1. Definition of Ampoule and Vial


An ampoule is also known as ampul, ampule, or ampulla. It is a sealed vial that contains or stores a sample, usually liquid or solid.


A vial is also called as a phial or flacon. It is a small cylindrical container made of glass typically for holding liquid medications.

  1. Applications of Ampoule vs Vial


  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Retail industry
  • Diagnostics
  • Veterinary
  • Spa items
  • First Aid
  • Cosmetics
  • Dental
  • Health and Beauty Aids
  • Toiletries


  • Pharmaceutical applications (liquids, powders or capsules)
  • Autosampler devices in analytical chromatography.
  • Scientific sample vessels
  • Research applications
  • Industrial applications
  1. Potency protection of Ampoule and Vial


Unstable chemical compounds that, in the presence of oxygen or any other element keep themselves intact, remain potent when stored in an ampoule. Typically, medical drug manufacturers suck out the air from the ampoule before sealing it in order to prevent any contamination or degradation of the content within the container.


A vial is not typical hermetic types and is known to best store the stable elements.

  1. Reuse of Ampoule and Vial


Ampoules are not reusable once their glass neck is broken. At times, the breaking off the ampoule is challenging and times the peril of injury also exists in case the broken glass debris comes in contact with the contents inside the ampoule.


In contrast, a vial can be reused for storing purposes. It can be cleaned and reused several times and possesses less risks of injury as compared to an ampoule.

  1. Volume measurement in Ampoule and Vial


The holder of an ampule undergoes tiny disparities in its internal volume. It is due to the sealed technology which causes melting of the glass. In most cases, a syringe with capacity indicators sucks some liquid from the ampoule to sort the required quantity of the medicinal drug.


In contrast, a vial offers a, correct, explicit, and faultless quantity mark signs that become visual indicators of the left-over quantity of the medicinal drug or any other product.

  1. Mixing of Ampoule and Vial


The snapped off glass edge of unlatched ampules carries the peril of entry or establishment of small glass debris into a mixture of chemicals and thus do not offer themselves to mixing items.


Vials are plastic or glass vessels that can be conveniently used for mixing multiple compounds of chemical nature. By means of their glass membranes, the resulting mixture of chemical compounds exhibit their consistent attribute and the colours. Most of the intravenous injections that are available in the pharmacy stores are in the form of sealed containers or vials and the stored liquid drugs are pulled out through a syringe.


Summary of Ampoule verses Vial

The points of difference between an Ampoule and a Vial have been summarized below:


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References :

[0]Freitas, R. R. D. A., & Tardelli, M. A. (2016). Comparative analysis of ampoules and vials in sterile and conventional packaging as to microbial load and sterility test. Einstein (São Paulo), 14(2), 226-230.

[1]Matejtschuk, P., Rafiq, S., Johnes, S., & Das, R. G. (2005). A comparison of vials with ampoules for the storage of biological reference materials. Biologicals, 33(2), 63-70.

[2]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a1/Drug_ampoule_JPN.jpg/559px-Drug_ampoule_JPN.jpg

[3]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3a/Hydromorphone_vial.JPG/640px-Hydromorphone_vial.JPG

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