Ultrasound based tip location of femorally inserted central catheters into the inferior vena cava: A comparison between the transhepatic and the subcostal view

J Vasc Access. 2023 May 30:11297298231178063. doi: 10.1177/11297298231178063. Online ahead of print.


Background: Intraprocedural catheter tip location is currently recommended. Intracavitary EGC and ultrasound are the preferred methods of tip location for catheters with their tip in the superior vena cava or in the right atrium. Though, the best method of intraprocedural tip location for catheters with their tip in the inferior vena cava is still uncertain. One possibility is to visualize the subdiaphragmatic inferior vena cava by ultrasound, using either the transhepatic or the subxiphoid view.

Methods: In this prospective study, we compared two different ultrasound windows for the visualization of the inferior vena cava (transhepatic vs subxiphoid) for the purpose of localizing the catheter tip during the insertion of femorally inserted central catheters.

Results: We studied 249 consecutive insertions of central catheters via the superficial femoral vein. Intraprocedural location of the catheter tip was performed by ultrasound, using both transhepatic and subxiphoid view. Visualization of the inferior vena cava was possible only in 81 cases (32.5%) with the subxiphoid view, but it was always possible in all 249 cases with the transhepatic view. The catheter tip was localized in 15 patients out of 81 with the subxiphoid view (18.5%); the transhepatic view allowed the visualization of the tip in all 249 patients.

Conclusions: The applicability of the subxiphoid window has several limitations, both in terms of visualization of the inferior vena cava and localization of the catheter tip. The transhepatic view should be the preferred method for intraprocedural ultrasound localization of the catheter tip in the inferior vena cava.

Keywords: Tip location; femorally inserted central catheters; inferior vena cava; subxiphoid view; trans-hepatic view; ultrasound.