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J Neurosurg Anesthesiol. 2003 Jul;15(3):170-5.

Catheter malplacement during central venous cannulation through arm veins in pediatric patients.

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Department of Neuroanesthesiology, Neuro-sciences Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India.


For successful catheter placement, central venous cannulation (CVC) through internal jugular vein and subclavian vein has been recommended in both adult and pediatric patients. But it carries a risk of serious complications, such as pneumothorax, carotid, or subclavian artery puncture, which can be life-threatening, particularly in critically ill children. So a prospective study was carried out to determine the success rate of correct catheter tip placement during CVC through antecubital veins in pediatric neurosurgical patients. A total of 200 pediatric patients (age 1-15 years) of either sex were studied. Basilic or cephalic veins of either arm were selected. All the patients were cannulated in the operation room under general anesthesia. Single lumen, proper size catheters (with stillete) were used for cannulation. The catheter was inserted in supine position with the arm abducted at right angle to the body and neck turned ipsilaterally. The length of insertion was determined from cubital fossa to the right second intercostal space. The exact position of the tip of the catheter was confirmed radiologically in ICU. Correct catheter tip placement was achieved in 98 (49%) patients. Multivariate logistic regression analysis of data shows that there was no statistically significant difference among correct and incorrect catheter tip placement in relation to factors including sex, side of cannulation (left or right), and type of vein (basilic or cephalic). The analysis of correct catheter tip placement in relation to age showed that the highest success rate was achieved in children of age group 6 to 10 years (60.2%) followed by 30.6% in the 11 to 15 year group. The lowest success rate of tip placement of only 9.2% was observed in younger children of age 1 to 5 years, which is statistically significant (P = 0.001). Of 102 incorrect placements reported, 37% were in 1 to 5 year age group versus 9.2% correct tip placements. The most common unsatisfactory placements were either in the ipsilateral internal jugular vein (N = 38, 37.2%) or in the ipsilateral subclavian vein (N = 27, 26.4%). In 10 patients the catheter crossed over to the opposite subclavian vein, in 16 patients the catheter tips were found in the axillary vein, and in 10 patients each the catheter tip was observed in right atrium and right ventricle. No major complication during and following CVC was observed. To conclude, CVC using single orifice catheter through arm veins in pediatric patients is easy to perform, but the proper catheter tip placement is highly unreliable, particularly in younger children 1 to 5 years of age.

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