UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Critical Care

Title: Central venous catheters

Keywords: tlc, triple lumen, cordis, catheter, central line, icu, critical care (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/30/2015 by Feras Khan, MD
Click here to contact Feras Khan, MD

With a new academic year starting, it is important to review some details on central lines

Complications of central lines (TLC-Triple lumen catheter)

  • Pneumothorax (more common with subclavian)
  • Arterial puncture (more common with femoral)
  • Catheter malposition
  • Subcutaneous hematoma
  • Hemothorax
  • Catheter related infection (historically more with femoral)
  • Catheter induced thrombosis
  • Arrhythmia (usually from guidewire insertion)
  • Venous air embolism (avoid with Trendelenburg position)
  • Bleeding

Avoiding infections: hand hygiene, chlorhexidine skin antisepsis, maximal barrier precautions, remove unnecessary lines, full gown and glove w/ mask and sterile technique.

Catheter position: 16-18cm for Right sided and 18-20 cm for Left sided. But can vary based on height, neck length, and catheter insertion site. Approximate length based on these factors.

Flow rates: Remember that putting in a central line does not necessarily improve your flow rates in resuscitation

16 G IV: 220 ml/min

Cordis/introducer sheath: 126 ml/min

18 G IV: 105 ml/min

16G distal port TLC: 69 ml/min

Ports (Can vary with type of catheter)

1. Distal exit port (16G)

2. Middle port (18G)

3. Proximal port (18G)

Arterial puncture: hold pressure for 5 mins and evaluate for hematoma formation (harder for subclavian approach)

Arterial cannulation: Has decreased due to ultrasound use but if you do cannulate an arterial site, don’t panic. Don’t remove the line. You can check a blood gas or arterial pulse waveform to confirm placement.  Call vascular surgery for open removal and repair or endovascular repair. You could potentially remove a femoral arterial line and hold pressure but seek vascular advice regarding possible closure devices to use after removal.