A retrospective study was carried out comparing 61 very low birth weight infants (VLBW) with percutaneous central venous catheters with 92 infants managed with peripheral cannulae. Eighteen infants developed one or more episodes of catheter-associated bacteraemia. In 70% of cases the infection was successfully treated with the line in situ. Logistic regression analysis was performed to examine risk factors for bacteraemia. The duration of intravenous fluids and of intermittent positive pressure ventilation were both significant risks for infection (odds ratios and 95% confidence limits 4.4, 2.7-12.0 and 2.5, 1.0-6.1 respectively), but the presence of a silastic catheter was not an independent risk factor (odds ratio 0.6, 95% confidence limits 0.1-3.0).
Conclusion: Percutaneous central venous catheters provide a satisfactory means of delivering parenteral nutrition with minimal disturbance to ill VLBW infants.