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ASSESSMENT OF INFANTS WITH PERIPHERALLY INSERTED CENTRAL CATHETERS: PART 1. DETECTING THE MOST FREQUENTLY OCCURRING COMPLICATIONS.

PETTIT, JANET RNC, MSN, NNP
Advances in Neonatal Care: December 2002
doi: 10.1053/adnc.2002.36826
Cultivating Clinical Expertise: Focus ON THE PHYSICAL: PDF Only

Inserting, maintaining, and monitoring vascular access are integral components of neonatal care. Advances in vascular access technology have led to the insertion of peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC) to provide stable venous access for early and aggressive parenteral nutrition. Medications that are irritating or damaging, or those with a high osmolality or a nonphysiologic pH, can also be safely administered into the central venous system. The need for repeated peripheral intravenous attempts, as well as the associated pain and physiologic instability, are virtually eliminated once a PICC line is placed.

Complications related to PICCs may occur at any phase of therapy: during insertion, while indwelling, or after discontinuing the line. The risk factors associated with PICCs are distinctly different from peripheral intravenous lines because of their long dwell time, central placement, and potential to migrate. Part 1 of Focus on the Physical offers a review of the relevant anatomy of the vascular system and a discussion of the appropriate sites for catheter tip placement. Guidelines for a systematic physical assessment, along with recommendations for standardized PICC documentation, are provided.

A review of the signs and symptoms of more frequently occurring complications, such as catheter occlusion and bloodstream infections, is presented to enhance awareness of PICC-specific complications in the neonate and to expedite early detection and treatment. Part 2 of this series will focus on systematic assessment for less common complications such as catheter migration, dislodgement, breakage, and thrombosis, as well as the life-threatening complications of pleural and pericardial effusion.

(C) 2002 National Association of Neonatal Nurses