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"This study evaluates both patient and procedural factors which may influence CVC tip migration and subsequent catheter dysfunction" Smith et al (2022).
Jugular central venous catheter tip migration


Background: The ideal central venous catheter (CVC) tip position placement is controversial, and CVCs do not remain in a fixed position after placement. This study evaluates both patient and procedural factors which may influence CVC tip migration and subsequent catheter dysfunction.

Materials and methods: This study evaluates CVC placements at a single institution. Patient age, gender, body mass index (BMI), catheter laterality, CVC type and indication for central venous access were recorded. Catheter tip location relative to the carina was measured at time of placement and removal utilizing supine fluoroscopic imaging. Patients’ electronic medical records were reviewed for evidence of catheter dysfunction. Statistical analysis was performed utilizing odds ratios and two tailed Student’s t-test.

Results: 177 patients were included (101 female; mean age 55; mean BMI 29.2). Catheter types included 122 ports, 50 tunneled large bore central venous catheters (≥9 French), and 5 tunneled small bore central venous catheters (<9 French). 127 were right sided catheters, and 50 were left sided. Left sided CVCs had a mean cranial tip migration of 3.2 cm (standard deviation ±2.9 cm) compared to 0.8 cm (standard deviation ±1.9 cm) for right sided catheters (p = 0.000008). Catheters that migrated cranially by >2 cm had more than 7× greater risk of dysfunction compared to catheters that migrated ≤2 cm (odds ratio of 7.2; p = 0.0001). Left sided CVCs were significantly more likely to have >2 cm of cranial migration (odds ratio 6.9, 95% CI 3.4-14.2, p < 0.0001) and had a higher rate of dysfunction, likely due to this cranial migration (32% vs. 4.7%; p = 0.00001). Gender and BMI were not found to be associated with catheter dysfunction or an increased odds ratio of >2 cm cranial migration.

Conclusions: Left-sided CVCs migrate an average of 2.4 cm cranially more than right-sided catheters. Additionally, when migration occurs, left-sided catheters are more likely to be dysfunctional. These suggest that lower initial placement may be beneficial in left-sided catheters.


Smith T, Kaufman C, Quencer K. Internal Jugular Central Venous Catheter Tip Migration: Patient and Procedural Factors. Tomography. 2022 Apr 3;8(2):1033-1040. doi: 10.3390/tomography8020083. PMID: 35448717; PMCID: PMC9025797.