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Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1989 Feb;168(2):121-4.

Cannulation of inferior vena cava for long term central venous access.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University Hospital, SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse 13210.


Nineteen patients had a Silastic (silicone rubber) catheter placed into the inferior vena cava (IVC) by way of a vein of a lower extremity. All patients needed long term venous access but had conditions precluding access to the superior vena cava (SVC) or access sites of the upper torso. Precautions regarding operative technique for the placement of the catheter include incisions through healthy skin, maintenance of aseptic technique at the site of access, an atraumatic subcutaneous tunnel at least 25 centimeters in length and a long acting local analgesic effect. Catheters were in situ for a total of 2,215 days (a mean of 111 days per catheter). Catheters were also used to administer intravenously medications, blood and blood products, chemotherapeutic agents, parenteral nutrition and for sampling of blood. Four complications occurred: one instance each of catheter sepsis and infection of the subcutaneous tract and two of thromboses of the IVC. No deaths occurred. The complication rate was 0.18 per cent per catheter-day. Long term access to the IVC is feasible without undue concern in conditions in which access to the SVC is precluded but long term central access is essential.

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