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"To correlate the standard practice of clinical assessment (VI/PE) with POC-US exam to determine the location and function of PIVC suspicious for malfunctioning" Frunza et al (2021).

Ultrasound peripheral IV site review


Background: A peripheral intravenous catheter (PIVC) is used to administer IV fluids and medications. The most common PIVC complication is peripheral intravenous extravasation and infiltration (PIVE/I). Early visual inspection and physical exam (VI/PE) of the insertion site performed by a registered nurse (RN) are essential to prevent or limit tissue damage caused by displaced PIV catheters. Skin ultrasound (US) of the PIVC site provides rapid, real-time, high-resolution images of the anatomic structures at the point of care (POC).

Objectives: To correlate the standard practice of clinical assessment (VI/PE) with POC-US exam to determine the location and function of PIVC suspicious for malfunctioning.

Design/methods: PIVC sites suspicious of malfunctioning were assessed by RN and findings were recorded in the electronic medical record. POC-US exam of the PIVC site was performed immediately after VI/PE. Sonographic exam included B-mode assessment of the PIVC site subcutaneous tissue characteristics and PIVC location as assessed by the Doppler flow tracing during RN’s normal saline flush. RN’s decision to continue or discontinue the PIVC was based solely on her/his VI/PE.

Results: Forty-four infants were studied. We found sufficient disagreement between the two methodologies (p = .0074), with discordance noted in 15 (34.1%) cases. In 29 (65.9%) cases there was concordance between VI/PE and POC-US, 18 to remove and 11 not to remove PIVC (Gwet AC1 correlation coefficient = 0.34). There was no significant correlation between VI/PE finding of tissue edema, the most common initial clinical evaluation sign, and POC-US finding of tissue edema or fluid pockets (p = .67, p = .21 respectively). RN’s findings during the PIVC flush with normal saline (NS) were in perfect agreement with the findings of the Doppler signal on POC-US (Gwet’s AC1 = 0.82) as well as with the final US-based decision to remove PIVC (p < .0001).

Conclusion: We found only a fair correlation between RN’s VI/PE of the suspicious PIVC site and the POC-US exam of the same site. However, our data suggest that in the evaluation of questionable PIVC, POC-US could be used in conjunction with VI/PE. This combination may improve the accuracy of decisions to remove or maintain PIVCs, which will result in a decreased number of PIVC placement attempts and complications.


Frunza IF, Boyar V, Fishbein J, Kurepa D. Correlation between visual inspection/physical exam and point-of-care ultrasound exam in the evaluation of neonatal peripheral intravenous catheter site. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2021 Oct 10:1-7. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2021.1988564. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34632914.