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"Most infants experienced a vascular access-related complication" van Rens et al (2021).

Peripheral IV cannula complications in neonates


Objectives: Infants in neonatal units benefit from dependable peripheral intravenous access. However, peripheral intravenous access exposes infants to high rates of clinically minor and serious complications. Despite this, little is known about the interplay of risk factors. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence and evaluate the interactions of risk factors on the occurrence of peripheral intravenous complications in a neonatal population.

Design: This was a retrospective observational study.

Setting: The study was performed on the neonatal intensive care unit of the Women’s Wellness and Research Center, Hamad Medical Corporation, Qatar, as a single-site study.

Participants: This study included 12 978 neonates who required intravenous therapy.

Outcome measurements: The main outcome was the occurrence of any peripheral intravenous cannulation failure, leading to unplanned removal of the device before completion of the intended intravenous therapy.

Results: A mean dwell time of 36±28 hours was recorded in participants with no complications, whereas the mean dwell time was 31±23 hours in participants with an indication for premature removal of the peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC) (p<0.001, t=11.35). Unplanned removal occurred in 59% of cases; the overall complication rate was 18 per 1000 catheter days. Unmodifiable factors affecting PIVC dwell time include lower birth (HR=0.23, 0.20 to 0.28, p<0.001) and current body weight (HR=1.06, 1.03 to 1.10, p=0.018). Cannulation site (HR=1.23, 1.16 to 1.30, p<0.001), the inserted device (HR=0.89, 0.84 to 0.94, p<0.001) and the indication for intravenous treatment (HR=0.76, 0.73 to 0.79, p<0.001) were modifiable factors.

Conclusion: Most infants experienced a vascular access-related complication. Given the high complication rate, PIVCs should be used judiciously and thought given prior to their use as to whether alternate means of intravenous access might be more appropriate.


van Rens MFPT, Hugill K, Mahmah MA, Bayoumi M, Francia ALV, Garcia KLP, van Loon FHJ. Evaluation of unmodifiable and potentially modifiable factors affecting peripheral intravenous device-related complications in neonates: a retrospective observational study. BMJ Open. 2021 Sep 8;11(9):e047788. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047788. PMID: 34497079.