Peripherally inserted central venous catheters (PICCs) are commonly used intravenous access devices in children. Although PICCs are intended to be placed in central veins, many fail to reach this location. These noncentral PICCs are used for administration of medications and isotonic solutions.
To examine the efficacy of noncentral PICCs for completion of therapy, the complications associated with their use, and the effectiveness of noncentral PICCs as compared with PICCs placed in a central vein.
A prospective cohort study of children in whom PICCs were inserted, from January 1, 1994, to January 1, 1996.
A university-affiliated teaching institution.
Main Outcome Measurement
Completion of intravenous therapy.
A total of 587 PICCs were studied. Thirty-nine percent of PICCs were placed in noncentral veins. Centrally placed PICCs had significantly longer catheter duration compared with those placed noncentrally (16.6 vs 11.4 days, respectively). However, central and noncentral PICCs had similar therapy completion rates (73% and 69%, respectively). Catheter failure because of occlusion and accidental dislodgment were similar for central and noncentral PICCs. Likewise, complications caused by exit-site infection, phlebitis, and catheter-associated sepsis were also similar for catheters in the 2 locations. Catheter survival curves were similar for central and noncentral PICCs.
Our study demonstrates that PICCs placed in noncentral veins provide reliable and safe intravenous access for administration of many medications and isotonic solutions for about 2 weeks' duration. The placement of PICCs in central veins may be restricted to those children who need central vascular access because of the type of intended therapy.