Is a routine chest x-ray necessary for children after fluoroscopically assisted central venous access?

James E Janik, C Clay Cothren, Joseph S Janik, Richard J Hendrickson, Denis D Bensard, David A Partrick, Frederick M Karrer
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 2003, 38 (8): 1199-202

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to determine in a pediatric population whether a routine chest x-ray after central venous access is necessary when the central venous catheter is placed with intraoperative fluoroscopy.

METHODS: This was a retrospective review of the charts of all patients at Children's Hospital in Denver, Colorado who underwent subclavian or internal jugular central venous catheter placement from January 1, 1998 through December 31, 2001. Age, sex, primary reason for access, access site, number of venipuncture attempts, type of catheter, intraoperative fluoroscopy results, chest x-ray results, location of the tip of the catheter, and complications were analyzed.

RESULTS: There were 1,039 central venous catheters placed in 824 patients, 92.6% in the subclavian vein and 7.4% in the internal jugular vein. There were 604 (58.1%) children who had both fluoroscopy and a postprocedure chest x-ray, there were 308 (29.6%) who had only fluoroscopy, there were 117 (11.3%) who had only a postprocedure chest x-ray, and there were 10 (1.0%) who had neither fluoroscopy nor chest x-ray. On completion of the procedure, there were 12 (1.1%) children with misplaced central venous catheters, only 1 (0.1%) when intraoperative fluoroscopy was used. There were 17 (1.6%) complications; 9 (0.9%) were pulmonary (pneumothorax, hemothorax, or an effusion). All children with pulmonary complications experienced clinical signs and symptoms suggestive of the complication after their central venous catheter insertion but before their postprocedure chest x-ray.

CONCLUSIONS: The number of complications encountered in children who had central venous access of the subclavian vein or internal jugular central vein with intraoperative fluoroscopy was infrequent, the number of misplaced catheters was minimized with intraoperative fluoroscopy, and all children with pulmonary complications showed clinical signs suggestive of pulmonary complications before postoperative chest x-ray. Therefore, children who have had central venous access of the subclavian and internal jugular vein with intraoperative fluoroscopy do not appear to require a routine chest x-ray after catheter placement unless clinical suspicion of a complication exists.

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