A systematic review of extravasation and local tissue injury from administration of vasopressors through peripheral intravenous catheters and central venous catheters

J Crit Care. 2015 Jun;30(3):653.e9-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2015.01.014. Epub 2015 Jan 22.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to collect and describe all published reports of local tissue injury or extravasation from vasopressor administration via either peripheral intravenous (IV) or central venous catheter.

Methods: A systematic search of Medline, Embase, and Cochrane databases was performed from inception through January 2014 for reports of adults who received vasopressor intravenously via peripheral IV or central venous catheter for a therapeutic purpose. We included primary studies or case reports of vasopressor administration that resulted in local tissue injury or extravasation of vasopressor solution.

Results: Eighty-five articles with 270 patients met all inclusion criteria. A total of 325 separate local tissue injury and extravasation events were identified, with 318 events resulting from peripheral vasopressor administration and 7 events resulting from central administration. There were 204 local tissue injury events from peripheral administration of vasopressors, with an average duration of infusion of 55.9 hours (±68.1), median time of 24 hours, and range of 0.08 to 528 hours. In most of these events (174/204, 85.3%), the infusion site was located distal to the antecubital or popliteal fossae.

Conclusions: Published data on tissue injury or extravasation from vasopressor administration via peripheral IVs are derived mainly from case reports. Further study is warranted to clarify the safety of vasopressor administration via peripheral IVs.

Keywords: Adverse effects; Central venous catheterization; Extravasation of diagnostic and therapeutic materials; Intravenous administration; Peripheral venous catheterization; Vasopressor agents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Central Venous
  • Catheterization, Peripheral
  • Central Venous Catheters
  • Critical Illness
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous / adverse effects*
  • Necrosis / chemically induced*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / chemically induced*
  • Vascular Access Devices
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / administration & dosage
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / adverse effects*


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents