Management of end-stage central venous access in children referred for possible small bowel transplantation

A F Rodrigues, I D M van Mourik, K Sharif, D J Barron, J V de Giovanni, J Bennett, P Bromley, S Protheroe, P John, J de Ville de Goyet, S V Beath
Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition 2006, 42 (4): 427-33

UNLABELLED: The 3-year survival after small bowel transplantation (SBTx) has improved to between 73% and 88%. Impaired venous access for parenteral nutrition can be an indication for SBTx in children with chronic intestinal failure.

AIM: To report our experience in management of children with extreme end-stage venous access.

SUBJECTS: The study consisted of 6 children (all boys), median age of assessment 27 months (range, 13-52 months), diagnosed with total intestinal aganglionosis (1), protracted diarrhea (1), and short bowel syndrome (4), of which gastroschisis (2) and malrotation with midgut volvulus (2) were the causes. All had a documented history of more than 10 central venous catheter insertions previously. All had venograms, and 1 child additionally had a magnetic resonance angiogram to evaluate venous access. Five of 6 presented with thrombosis of the superior vena cava (SVC) and/or inferior vena cava.

METHODS: Venous access was reestablished as follows: transhepatic venous catheters (5), direct intra-atrial catheter via midline sternotomy (4), azygous venous catheters (2), dilatation of left subclavian vein after passage of a guide wire and then placing a catheter to reach the right atrium (1), radiological recanalization of the SVC and placement of a central venous catheter in situ (1), and direct puncture of SVC stump(1). Complications included serous pleural effusion after direct intra-atrial line insertion, which resolved after chest drain insertion (1), displacement of transhepatic catheter needing repositioning (2), and SVC stent narrowing requiring repeated balloon dilatation.

OUTCOME: Four children with permanent intestinal failure on assessment were offered SBTx, 3 of which were transplanted and were established on full enteral nutrition; the family of 1 child declined the procedure. In the remaining 2 children in whom bowel adaptation was still a possibility, attempts were made to provide adequate central venous access as feeds and drug manipulations were undertaken. One of them received liver and SBTx nearly 3 years after presenting with end-stage central venous access, because attempts to achieve independence from parenteral nutrition had failed. The other child died immediately after a transhepatic venous catheter placement, possibly from a nutritional depletion syndrome as no physical cause of death was found. Direct intra-atrial catheters in transplanted children proved to be adequate for the management of uncomplicated transplantation, although the usual infusion protocol had to be modified considerably, and the lack of access would have been critical if massive blood transfusion had been required during the transplant procedure.

CONCLUSION: It was possible to reestablish central venous access in all cases. However, this was time consuming and difficult to assemble a skilled team consisting of one of more: surgeon, cardiologist, interventional radiologist, and transplant anesthetist. Small bowel transplantation is easier and safer with adequate central venous access, and we advocate liaison with an SBTx center at an early stage.

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