Difference Between Ampoule and Vial

Both ampoules and vials are commonly used as storage containers to store, and transport liquefied medical compounds, the unstable character of the compounds stored in an ampoule makes them suitable for only a single use. At the same time, a vial contains stable compounds and can be reused after removing the seal.


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Key Takeaways

  1. An ampoule is a small sealed glass container, while a vial is a small bottle with a rubber or cork stopper.
  2. Ampoules are used for single-use sterile packaging of liquid drugs, while vials are used for storing liquid or solid medication for multiple uses.
  3. Ampoules are more fragile and difficult to open than vials, but they offer better protection against contamination and tampering.

Ampoule vs Vial

The difference between an ampoule and a vial is that while an ampoule is a glass or plastic container generally used to store unstable medical compounds, a vial is a container used to store more stable chemicals.

Ampoule vs Vial

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An ampoule needs to be hermeneutically sealed to avoid contamination of the compound; however, a vial does not need to be hermeneutically sealed as it is simply a reagent container. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAmpouleVial
Usage SuitabilityAmpoules are used to store volatile and unstable chemical compounds.Vials are used to store more stable compounds.
Seal UsedA heat or laser seal is used to block any air contact.A wooden or rubber stopper is generally used to seal the neck of the vial.
ReusabilityViable for only a singular usage.It can be sanitized and reused.
Ease of AccessOpening an ampoule is difficult, as the glass neck needs to be broken and may result in injuries.Opening a vial is comparatively easier as you must remove the stopper to access the vessel’s contents.
DurabilityAn ampoule can be used to store a compound temporarily.Chemicals can be stored in a vial for prolonged periods.
ManufacturingThe difficult process of manufacturing needs sophisticated glass transfusion technology to create the distinct bottleneck of an ampoule.Easy process of manufacturing.

What is an Ampoule?

An ampoule is a small glass vessel with an extended neck sealed with a heat lock. The seal protects the compound within from any contaminating reactions with the oxygen and moisture of the air.

They are primarily used to store a single dosage of a medical compound in the liquefied form. Due to the sealed neck of ampoules, accessing their contents can be a little difficult.

The glass neck must be broken to use the compound. Sometimes the glass debris may contaminate the substance within.

Ampoules are not suitable for reuse. Once the neck of the bottle is broken, the body of the ampoule has to be discarded.

Pharmaceutical companies use ampoules to store chemical compounds. They are also used by the cosmetic, dental, retail, and diagnostic industries.

An ampoule is most befitting for the temporary storage of compounds.   


What is a Vial?

A vial is a glass or plastic container that uses a rubber or wooden stopper to plug its opening. Vials store more stable compounds that do not require an airlock.

The neck of the bottle may or may not be sealed. Vials tend to have specific closure systems.

Glass vials generally use a screw cap, while a crimp vial uses a rubber stopper and a metal cap. Vials can be sterilized and reused.

Vials are well-suited for storing chemicals for a prolonged period. Vials are much more versatile than ampoules.

Their usage is quite varied. Vials are used in the cosmetic industry to store serums and perfumes; the pharmaceutical industry also uses them to store medicines and vaccine dosages.

They are also used in the field of research.


Main Differences Between Ampoule and Vial

  1. The main difference between an ampoule and a vial is that the former stores more volatile medical compounds and chemicals, while the latter stores stable solutions. Hence, a hermeneutic seal is essential for the former to deter chemical reactions with the oxygen in the air; such seals may be absent later.
  2. Ampoules are created for a singular designated usage. Once the heat seal of an ampoule is broken, it cannot be reused. Whereas the substances stored in a vial are not as unstable as the contents of an ampoule, thus heat seals are not needed to secure their necks. They can be easily sterilized and reused.
  3. Heat seals secure an ampoule’s neck, while a vial is usually secured with a rubber stopper or cork. Laser seals may also be used for ampoules to deter the contamination of the substance stored within.
  4. Accessing an ampoule may be trickier than a vial. Generally, ampoules are made of glass, and due to the heat seals, the neck of an ampoule needs to be broken to access the substance within.
  5. Injuries are quite common when handling ampoules. Conversely, vials use rubber or wooden corks that can be easily removed to access the compounds within. Hence, the potential for injury is reduced. Ampoules can be used to store substances for a shorter period than vials. Vials can store chemical compounds for weeks. Ampoules are more suited to be used as temporary storage vessels. Complicated mechanical support is required to manufacture ampoules.
  6. An ampoule’s complex glass bottleneck can solely be manufactured using specific machines. However, a vial is relatively simpler to manufacture as the design of the container is not as complex as an ampoule. Moreover, it can be closed with a stopper and does not require the glass fusion an ampoule needs.
Difference Between Ampoule and Vial
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1045105604000879
  2. https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1679-45082016005002102&script=sci_arttext
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