Objective: To compare complication rates between central venous catheter tip location and noncentral tip location after peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) placement in children.
Methods: Between 1994 and 1998, data from all children who underwent PICC placement were analyzed. Patient demographics, catheter characteristics, catheter duration, infusate composition, and catheter complications were entered prospectively into a computerized database. Catheter tip locations were determined by fluoroscopy and were defined as central if they resided in the superior vena cava, right atrium, or high inferior vena cava at or above the level of the diaphragm, and as noncentral if located elsewhere. Differences in complication rates between the central and noncentral groups were analyzed.
Results: Data from a total of 1266 PICCs were analyzed from 1053 patients with a mean age of 6.49 +/-.2 years (range: 0-45.0 years). Of the 1266 PICCs, 1096 (87%) were central in tip location, and 170 (13%) were noncentral in tip location. The central group had 42 complications of 1096 catheters (3.8%), while the noncentral group had 49 complications of 170 catheters (28.8%). Controlling for patient age, catheter size, gender, and catheter duration with a logistic regression model, there remained a statistically significant increased likelihood of complication in the noncentral group versus the central group (adjusted odds ratio: 8.28; 95% confidence interval: 5.11-13.43).
Conclusions: Centrally placed catheter tips are associated with fewer complications than are noncentrally placed catheter tips. Clinicians should ensure that catheter tips reside centrally after PICC placement in infants and children.