How to check tip placement in dysfunctional central venous catheters



BACKGROUND: In children undergoing intravenous chemotherapy, partial dysfunction of the central venous catheter (CVC) is common. Fluids can be infused into the catheter; however, blood cannot be aspirated. In those situations, chemotherapy is withheld and a catheter investigation is performed. Usually, a radiographic study with contrast media or therapy with thrombolytic drugs followed by rechecking for blood return is undertaken.

AIM: To evaluate if a previously described method using dilute sodium bicarbonate injection and the resultant rise in measured end-tidal carbon dioxide tracing can confirm correct intravascular placement of a dysfunctional CVC in children at the bedside.

PATIENTS: Cohort group of 22 children scheduled for chemotherapy with partial dysfunction of a CVC in a tertiary hematology-oncology care facility.

RESULTS: All children with a partial dysfunctional CVC that was proven to be intravascular after venogram or thrombolytic therapy had a distinct and predictable increase in end-tidal carbon dioxide response to injected bicarbonate.

CONCLUSION: Injection of 1 mL/kg (maximum 20 mL) of 4.2% dilute sodium bicarbonate is a quick, simple, bedside test allowing confirmation of intravascular location of dysfunctional CVC.


Keidan, I., Ben-Menachem, E., Berkenstadt, H. and Toren, A. (2015) A Simple Diagnostic Test to Confirm Correct Placement of Dysfunctional Central Venous Catheters Before Chemotherapy in Children. Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. October 21st. [epub ahead of print].

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