Ultrasonographically guided peripheral intravenous cannulation of children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ann Emerg Med. 2013 Apr;61(4):444-454.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2012.11.014. Epub 2013 Feb 15.


Study objective: Peripheral intravenous cannulation is procedurally challenging and painful. We perform a systematic review to evaluate ultrasonographic guidance as an aid to peripheral intravenous cannulation.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Web of Science, ClinicalTrials.gov, and Google.ca. We included randomized trials evaluating ultrasonographically guided peripheral intravenous cannulation and reporting risk of peripheral intravenous cannulation failure, number of attempts, procedure time, or time from randomization to peripheral intravenous cannulation. We separately analyzed pediatric and adult data and emergency department (ED), ICU, and operating room data. Quality assessment used the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool.

Results: We identified 4,664 citations, assessed 403 full texts for eligibility, and included 9 trials. Five had low risk, 1 high risk, and 3 unclear risk of bias. A pediatric ED trial found that ultrasonography decreased mean difference (MD) in the number of attempts (MD -2.00; 95% confidence interval [CI] -2.73 to -1.27) and procedure time (MD -8.10 minutes; 95% CI -12.48 to -3.72 minutes). In an operating room pediatric trial, ultrasonography decreased risk of first-attempt failure (risk ratio 0.23; 95% CI 0.08 to 0.69), number of attempts (MD -1.50; 95% CI -2.52 to -0.48), and procedure time (MD -5.95; 95% CI -10.21 to -1.69). Meta-analysis of adult ED trials suggests that ultrasonography decreases the number of attempts (MD -0.43; 95% CI -0.81 to -0.05). Ultrasonography decreased risk of failure (risk ratio 0.47; 95% CI 0.26 to 0.87) in an adult ICU trial.

Conclusion: Ultrasonography may decrease peripheral intravenous cannulation attempts and procedure time in children in ED and operating room settings. Few outcomes reached statistical significance. Larger well-controlled trials are needed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / methods*
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Operating Rooms / methods
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*