Safety and efficacy of vasopressor administration through midline catheters

J Crit Care. 2021 Feb:61:1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2020.09.024. Epub 2020 Oct 2.


Context: Vasopressors are commonly administered through Central Venous Catheters (CVCs) as it is considered unsafe to administer them via peripheral IVs, mainly due to the concern of local tissue injury. Unlike peripheral IVs, midline catheters provide a wider lumen with the catheter tip ending in a large peripheral vein. The use of vasopressors through midline catheters has not yet been evaluated.

Objective: The primary objective of this study is to determine the safety and efficacy of long term administration of vasopressors through a midline catheter.

Design: This is a retrospective study between 2016 and 2019 looking at the outcomes of midline catheters.

Setting: 45 bed Tertiary level ICU in a 600-bed teaching hospital.

Patients: A total of 248 patients received vasopressors via midline catheters.

Results: The average midline dwell time was 14.7 ± 12.8 days and the average duration of continuous vasopressor infusion was 7.8 ± 9.3 days. Vasopressors used with their average dose (AD) were norepinephrine (n = 165, 16.8 CE ± 10.7 μg/min), epinephrine (n = 56, 9.1 CE ± 6.0 μg/min), vasopressin (n = 123, 0.05 CE ± 0.02 units/min), phenylephrine (n = 158, 91.4 CE ± 64.7 μg/min) and Angiotensin II (50 CE ± 27.6 ng/kg/min). Early Complication rate was 3.6% due to Bloodstream infection (n = 6), drug extravasation (n = 1), thrombophlebitis (n = 1) and arterial puncture (n = 1). Late Complication rate was 0.8% (n = 2) due to midline-associated DVTs. There were no complications related to ineffective drug delivery or limb endangerment.

Conclusions: Many medical centers are attempting to limit the use of central venous catheters (CVCs) to avoid central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs). This study demonstrates that midline catheters are a safe alternative to CVCs, for the safe and efficacious administration of vasopressors for prolonged periods of time.

Keywords: CLABSI; Central lines; Midlines; Peripheral IV access; Safety; Vasoactive medications; Vasopressors.

MeSH terms

  • Catheter-Related Infections* / epidemiology
  • Catheterization, Central Venous* / adverse effects
  • Catheterization, Peripheral* / adverse effects
  • Central Venous Catheters* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Phenylephrine
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / adverse effects


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Phenylephrine