Femoral deep vein thrombosis associated with central venous catheterization: results from a prospective, randomized trial

S J Trottier, C Veremakis, J O'Brien, A I Auer
Critical Care Medicine 1995, 23 (1): 52-9

OBJECTIVE: To determine the frequency of central venous catheter-induced deep vein thrombosis of the femoral vein.

DESIGN: Prospective, randomized, controlled trial.

SETTING: Tertiary care center.

PATIENTS: Forty-five patients in a medical-surgical intensive care unit who required central venous catheterization.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients were randomized to receive central venous catheterization in either upper (subclavian or internal jugular veins) or lower (femoral vein) catheterization sites. Lower extremity duplex ultrasound examinations were performed before central venous catheter placement, after removal of the catheter, and 7 days after catheter removal. Ultrasound examinations were reported as positive, nondiagnostic, or negative for deep vein thrombosis.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Of the 21 patients randomized to upper access sites, none developed positive or nondiagnostic duplex ultrasound examinations. Six (25%) of 24 patients randomized to the femoral access site developed lower extremity deep vein thrombosis (p = .02). In addition, seven (29%) patients randomized to the lower access site sustained non-diagnostic ultrasound examinations. A total of 13 (54%) of 24 patients from the lower access group developed abnormal ultrasound examinations (p < .001). Age, duration of catheterization, coagulation profile, deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II scores were similar between the upper and lower access groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on the data from this study, we concluded that femoral vein catheterization is associated with a 25% frequency of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis compared with similar patients receiving subclavian or internal jugular vein catheters. The femoral vein remains an important emergency venous access route. Physicians inserting femoral vein catheters should be aware of the risk of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis and should consider performing lower extremity duplex ultrasound examinations on removal of femoral vein catheters.

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