CVC parenteral nutrition review


Ainsworth, S., Clerihew, L. and McGuire W. (2007) Percutaneous central venous catheters versus peripheral cannulae for delivery of parenteral nutrition in neonates. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD004219. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004219.pub3.



Neonatal parenteral nutrition may be delivered via a peripheral cannula or a central venous catheter (either umbilical or percutaneous). Because of the complications associated with umbilical catheters, many neonatal units prefer to use percutaneous catheters following initial stabilisation. Although potentially more difficult to place, these catheters may be more stable than peripheral cannulae and need less frequent replacement. Both delivery methods may be associated with different risks of adverse events, including acquired systemic infection and extravasation injury.


To determine the effect of infusion via percutaneous central venous catheter vs. peripheral cannulae on nutrient input, growth and development, and complications in hospitalized neonates receiving parenteral nutrition.

Search strategy

The standard search strategy of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group was used. This included searches of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, The Cochrane Library, Issue 2, 2008), MEDLINE (1966 – May 2008), EMBASE (1980 – May 2008), conference proceedings, and previous reviews.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials that compared delivery of intravenous fluids (primarily parenteral nutrition) via percutaneous central venous catheters vs. peripheral cannulae in hospitalized neonates.

Data collection and analysis

Data were extracted using the standard methods of the Cochrane Neonatal Review Group, with separate evaluation of trial quality and data extraction by each author, and synthesis of data using relative risk (RR), risk difference (RD) and mean difference (MD).

Main results

Five trials recruiting a total of 432 infants were found. One study showed that use of a percutaneous central venous catheter was associated with a a smaller deficit between prescribed and actual intake during the trial period: Mean difference -7.1% (95% CI -11.02, -3.2). Infants in the percutaneous central venous catheter group needed significantly fewer catheters/cannulae: Mean difference -4.3 (95% CI -5.24, -3.43). Meta-analysis of data from all five trials did not find any evidence of an effect on the incidence of invasive infection: typical relative risk 0.93 (95% CI 0.69, 1.23); typical risk difference -0.02 (95% CI -0.10, 0.06).

Authors’ conclusions

Data from one small study suggest that using a percutaneous central venous catheter to deliver parenteral nutrition improves nutrient input. The significance of this in relation to long-term growth and developmental outcomes is unclear. Three studies suggested that the use of a percutaneous central venous catheter decreases the number of catheters/cannulae needed to deliver the nutrition. No evidence was found to suggest that percutaneous central venous catheter use increased the risk of adverse events, particularly systemic infection.

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