Outpatient management of vascular access devices in children receiving radiotherapy: complications and morbidity

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2014 Mar;61(3):499-501. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24642. Epub 2013 Aug 17.


Background: When treating children with cancer, long-term venous access is critical. This is especially true in the context of children receiving daily radiation therapy (RT) under general anesthesia. We have previously reported <0.1% risk of complications in complications in over 4,040 pediatric treatments under general anesthesia in our outpatient facility. Here, we present our experience with venous catheter access techniques in children receiving daily proton RT.

Procedure: After Institutional Review Board approval, we reviewed our center's records between September 9, 2004 and October 23, 2012 with respect to complications and morbidity of indwelling catheters in our pediatric patients.

Results: Vascular access device (VAD) types included: 110 patients with indwelling port-a-cath (PAC), 34 PICC line devices, and 34 central venous catheter (CVC) devices in 170 patients. Median catheter life during RT was 43 days (range 1-86 days) with a total of 7,169 total catheter days while patients received RT. A 14% PAC complication rate included negative blood return (6.3%) and infection (3.6%). Complication rates for PICC and CVC access devices were 38% and 20.5%, respectively (χ(2) P = 0.007 when compared with PAC). Most frequent complications for PICC lines were no blood return (11.7%), and infection or occlusion (8.8% each). CVC complications were breakage (8.8%) and infection (8.8%). Access device replacement rates were 3.6% (PAC), 14.7% (PICC), and 8.8% (CVC).

Conclusions: In the outpatient delivery of RT to children, indwelling ports provide greater convenience, less likelihood of infection or complication, and greater durability than PICC or CVC devices.

Keywords: pediatric oncology; proton therapy; radiotherapy; vascular access devices.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects
  • Central Venous Catheters / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Outpatients
  • Vascular Access Devices* / adverse effects