Umbilical arterial catheter use: Report of an audit conducted by the Study Group for Complications of Perinatal Care

M. A. Fletcher, D. R. Brown, S. Landers, J. Seguin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The Study Group for Complications of Perinatal Care through 13 of its participating neonatal intensive care units conducted an audit of umbilical artery catheter (UAC) use over 3 months. Of 1941 patient admissions, 582 (30%) had a UAC inserted and left in place for a mean of 4.9 days. The mean supplemental oxygen concentration (FIO2) at removal was 0.35 with over 55% of UACs remaining in place until FIO2 was less than 0.26. Institutional practices varied widely for positioning the catheter tip, use of heparin, and types of infusates, as did the frequency of adverse events that prompted removal of the UAC. Most institutions with multiple physicians found less consistency in practice patterns within their own units than presumed prior to the audit. Just two institutions preferred catheter placement in the abdominal aorta (low) with the others selecting a low site only after detecting a malposition below the initially sought thoracic level. All but one group routinely used heparin, although in varying concentrations and total doses. Patient weight and catheter duration were inversely correlated, with smaller patients having catheters left in place for significantly longer periods (P <0.01). Similarly, smaller patients had a higher likelihood of catheter removal because of an adverse event; the adverse events were not necessarily related to longer duration. A significant relationship existed between positioning a catheter tip in the abdominal aorta and removal for adverse events (P <0.05).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)94-99
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Perinatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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