Mechanical and infectious complications of central venous cannulation in children: lessons learned from a 10-year experience placing more than 1000 catheters

Robert L Sheridan, Joan M Weber
Journal of Burn Care & Research: Official Publication of the American Burn Association 2006, 27 (5): 713-8
We sought to better describe the expected incidence of mechanical and infectious complications associated with central venous cannulation of critically ill children. We undertook a retrospective analysis of a prospective data collection of 1056 consecutive percutaneous central venous catheters inserted under the supervision of an experienced surgeon. There were 245 (23%) subclavian (SC), 118 (11%) internal jugular (IJ), and 693 (66%) femoral (F) catheters placed in 289 children with an average age of 6.4 +/- 5.1 years (range, 4 weeks to 18 years) admitted to a burn intensive care unit. Catheter sepsis occurred in 7.4% of SC, 7.6% of IJ, and 4.9% of F catheters (NS, P = .25), for an overall sepsis rate of 5.8%. The number of catheter lumens did not impact infection rate. Infection rates increased in catheters left in situ more than 10 days, increasing to 37.5% at 14 days. Acute mechanical complications occurred in three insertions (0.3%), including two (0.8%) SC, zero (0%) IJ, and one (0.1%) F catheters (NS, P = .20). All three were arterial cannulations that were recognized and treated successfully without surgery. There were no pneumothoraces, vascular lacerations, acute thromboses, or catheter emboli. There were six (0.6%) cases of deep venous thrombosis that occurred in cannulated sites: one (0.4%) SC, two (1.6.%) IJ, and three (0.4%) F sites (NS, P = .23). Patient age did not influence complication rates. A total of 239 (23%) of the CVCs were placed in infants less than 24 months; 273 (26%) 2 to 5 years, 259 (25%) 6 to 10 years, and 285 (27%) >10 to 18 years. Catheter sepsis occurred in 6.7%, 5.9%, 6.2%, and 4.6%, respectively (NS, P = .75). There was no difference in rates of infection or mechanical complication between younger and older children. When closely supervised by an experienced surgeon, a low rate of infection (5.8%), acute mechanical complication (0.3%), and deep venous thrombosis (0.6%) accompanies central venous cannulation of critically ill children.

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