Indian Journal of Anaesthesia  
About us | Editorial board | Search | Ahead of print | Current Issue | Past Issues | Instructions
Home | Login  | Users Online: 455  Print this pageEmail this pageSmall font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size    

 Table of Contents    
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 427-428  

Catheter malposition in infants: A preventable complication

Department of Anaesthesia and Critical Care, JPNA Trauma Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Web Publication8-Sep-2012

Correspondence Address:
Manpreet Kaur
426 Masjid Moth Resident Doctor's Hostel, AIIMS, New Delhi - 110 029
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5049.100846

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Balakrishnan I, Kaur M, Sawhney C, D'Souza N. Catheter malposition in infants: A preventable complication. Indian J Anaesth 2012;56:427-8

How to cite this URL:
Balakrishnan I, Kaur M, Sawhney C, D'Souza N. Catheter malposition in infants: A preventable complication. Indian J Anaesth [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 Jul 4];56:427-8. Available from:


Catheter malposition is a known complication of central venous catheterisation, with incidence of less than 1% to above 60%. [1] Misplacement is more frequent after the right subclavian (SCV) than the right internal jugular vein (IJV) approach. However, catheterisation via the left IJV results in more malpositions and vascular perforations than catheter placement through the right IJV. [1]

We discuss a case of a 1-month-old baby (length 57 cm, weight 4.8 kg) undergoing decompressive craniotomy for acute subdural haematoma. A 4,5 Fr multicath (Vygon Gmb H and Co. KG, Germany) central line was inserted in the right IJV for intra-operative central venous pressure monitoring. The catheter was inserted using the anatomic landmark technique and was fixed at the 7 cm mark on the skin after confirming backflow in all the lumens. Post-central line, chest roentgenogram (CXR) showed the tip of the catheter in the right subclavian vein by about 2.5 cm [Figure 1]a. Because it was difficult to reposition the original line, we planned ultrasound (USG)-guided left IJV cannulation. The J-tip of the guidewire was directed caudally and towards the right. The catheter was fixed at the 6 cm mark on the skin. Check CXR showed the catheter going to the right innominate vein by 1 cm [Figure 1]b. The catheter was refixed after pulling it out by 1 cm, and a repeat CXR confirmed its correct placement.
Figure 1: Chest roentgenogram (CXR) showing the tip of the catheter in (a) the right subclavian vein by about 2.5 cm and (b) the right innominate vein by 1 cm

Click here to view

Image-guided (USG) vascular access technique increases the likelihood of achieving access, especially in the obese and in the paediatric populations, where anatomic localisation may be difficult. [2] It is associated with fewer complication rates and a probable improvement in long-term venous patency rates. In paediatric patients, meticulous attention in catheter positioning is important to ensure that the lines are kept functional for longer periods. Although the USG-guided technique is useful for initial localisation of the vein, it does not guide about the length of the catheter to be inserted. Directing the J-tip of the catheter caudally increases the correct placement of the central venous catheters into the right atrium. [3] But, this is more useful in SCV than in IJV cannulation.

Overinsertion of the catheter may be the cause of misplacement in our case. This is especially important in small children where increased intravascular catheter length may result in complications like vascular erosions and pericardial tamponade. Various techniques described for guiding the depth of insertion include transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and formulas using patient characteristics (age, height, weight). However, TEE is not feasible in such small infants and ECG-guided central venous cannulation is cumbersome. The optimal size of the catheter in our case would be 3 or 4 Fr, and the optimal length of insertion should have been 4.5 cm according to height (catheter length=height in cm/10-1) and 5 cm according to the weight (<4.9 kg). [4] This must be followed by a radiological confirmation of the position of the catheter tip.

   References Top

1.Paw HG. Bilateral pleural effusions: Unexpected complication after left internal jugular venous catheterization. Br J Anaesth 2002;89:647-50.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Verghese ST, McGill WA, Patel RI, Sell JE, Midgley FM, Ruttimann UE. Ultrasound-guided internal jugular venous cannulationin infants. Anesthesiology 1999;91:71-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Tripathi M, Dubey PK, Ambesh SP. Direction of the J-tip of the guidewire, in seldinger technique, is a significant factor in misplacement of subclavian vein catheter: A randomized, controlled study. Anesth Analg 2005;100:21-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Andropoulos DB, Bent ST, Skjonsby B, Stayer SA. The optimal length of insertion of central venous catheters for pediatric patients. Anesth Analg 2001;93:883-6.  Back to cited text no. 4


  [Figure 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Optimal length of central venous catheter insertion in infants
Ray, B.R., Baidya, D.K.
Indian Journal of Anaesthesia. 2013; 57(1): 100-101


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded309    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal