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Thrombotic complications of central venous catheters in children

Journeycake, Janna M. MD; Buchanan, George R. MD

Hemostasis and thrombosis

Use of central venous catheters has become standard in the treatment of many chronic conditions during childhood and for the acute treatment of critically ill infants and children. However, these catheters can be associated with numerous complications, including thrombosis at the tip or in the lumen causing difficulty with its overall function. Even more concerning is the occlusion of large veins into which the catheter is placed, which could predispose patients to pulmonary embolism or postthrombotic syndrome.

Recent research has focused on identifying risk factors for catheter-related thrombosis in children and determining methods for diagnosing deep venous thrombosis associated with a catheter in the upper extremities. Evidence now exists that as many as 50% of children with catheters develop deep venous thrombosis; however, most events are clinically silent. Few clinical trials have studied prevention of catheter-related thrombosis in pediatric patients.

Data regarding incidence, treatment, and long-term outcome of catheter-related thrombosis in children are limited. Although central venous catheters are extremely important in the supportive care of sick children, concerns remain about their immediate and long-term safety.

University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas, USA.

Correspondence to Janna M. Journeycake, MD, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Hematology/Oncology, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, TX 75390-9063, USA; e-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.