What Does Gtt Mean?

Medical jargon is riddled with abbreviations, many of which are universally understood and some of which are very specialized. Yes, I’m looking at you, ophthalmology and OB/GYN. 😛

A common abbreviation I’ve seen in the perioperative world is “gtt.” This shorthand is used for continuous medication drips like propofol gtt, fentanyl gtt, milrinone gtt, etc.

“Gtt” is an abbreviation for “gutta,” the Latin word for “drop.” Similarly, gtts = guttae (plural) = drops. As in… the patient is on norepinephrine and insulin gtts en route to the intensive care unit. Unfortunately, I’ve seen “ggt” written instead of “gtt” as well. GGT is an enzyme (gamma-glutamyl transferase) found in all organs but most often associated with hepatobiliary damage. Knowing the Latin word has two ‘t’s might help us remember the correct abbreviation. 🙂

Instead of the three-letter Latin abbreviation “gtt,” I exhaust myself by writing the four-letter English word “drip.” And if I’m feeling particularly sophisticated, I might even write “infusion.” 😉

On that note, saying “adrenaline drip” sounds way cooler than “epi gtt.” Jealous of my European colleagues where this is the norm. 😀

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  1. How hard it is to order any medication as infusion instead of gtt to avoid confusion? With EMRs it should even be easier to select infusion. Abbreviations are misleading and can lead to dangerous errors, if not understood.

  2. Thanks for the clarity! Some of my students and juniors “googled” the term and said it is glucose tolerance test!
    Well articulated!


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