Ultrasound-guided placement of midline catheters in the surgical intensive care unit: a cost-effective proposal for timely central line removal

J Surg Res. 2014 Sep;191(1):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2013.03.047. Epub 2013 Apr 6.


Background: The early removal of central intravenous (IV) catheters, as a means of reducing the incidence of central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI), remains a major health care initiative. However, attaining IV access in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) can be quite difficult. We report the success of a novel, resident-driven program for the placement of ultrasound-guided midline catheters in critically ill patients.

Materials and methods: A prospective pilot study of 31 subjects admitted to the SICU from June to December 2011 was performed. Intermediate-length (20 cm) midline catheters were placed by trained housestaff, under ultrasound guidance, into the basilic or cephalic veins. Procedural details including time to cannulation, complications, and costs were recorded.

Results: Successful placement was achieved in 96.8% (n = 30), with a mean follow-up of 9.8 ± 5.6 (range 2-21) days. An average of 1.3 ± 0.7 (range 1-4) attempts with a median of 13.0 ± 14.5 (range 0.5-68) minutes was required for successful venous cannulation. The most common site was the basilic vein (n = 23). Only minor complications were encountered; three catheters leaked at the insertion site and one patient developed phlebitis. No CLABSI occurred. The total procedure cost was $87 per catheter for the SICU team compared with $1500 per catheter when performed by an interventional radiologist. During the study period, a total of 283 central line days were avoided with an estimated cost savings of $13,614.

Conclusions: Ultrasound-guided midline catheters placed by the housestaff are a cost-effective alternative for patients in the SICU with difficult IV access. Successful placement can help facilitate early central line removal and thus may reduce CLABSI rates.

Keywords: CLABSI; Catheter; Central line; Intensive care unit; Intravenous; Midline; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / economics
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / methods*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Critical Care / economics
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Device Removal / economics
  • Device Removal / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospital Costs*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / economics
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*