Background: It is critical to establish a safe and functional i.v. access in severely sick patients. We evaluated the frequency of application and complications of central venous catheters in a pediatric intensive care unit.
Methods: Pediatric patients in whom central venous catheters were inserted between March 1997 and May 1999 in the Pediatric Emergency Room and Intensive Care Unit were enrolled in this study. Patients were evaluated with respect to age, sex, weight, central venous catheter indication, site, duration of catheter stay and complications.
Results: During the study period a total of 156 central venous catheters were successfully inserted into 146 patients. Of the 156 central venous catheter attempts, 148 (94.9%) were placed into the subclavian vein, six were inserted into the femoral vein, and two into the jugular vein. In 156 attempts, arterial injuries occurred in 20 cases (12.8%). Pneumothorax developed in two patients on mechanical ventilation. Three catheters had to be removed due to catheter related infections. The mortality rate was 0%.
Conclusions: We concluded that subclavian central venous catheterization is a safe procedure with minimal complications in pediatric patients. Arterial injury was the most frequent complication. In experienced hands, the success rate was 100%. Subclavian central venous catheter insertion may be considered as the first approach in critically ill patients.