February 14, 1966

Perforation of Right Atrium by a Polyethylene Catheter

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pathology, Youngstown (Ohio) Hospital Assoc.; Reprint requests to Department of Pathology, Youngstown Hospital Assoc, Youngstown, Ohio 44501 (Dr. Johnson).

JAMA. 1966;195(7):584-586. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100070128046

THE UNIVERSAL USE of polyethylene catheters for prolonged intravenous fluid therapy prompts me to report this unusual and fatal complication. In 1954, Turner and Sommers1 reported the first case of a polyethylene catheter which had become lodged in the right atrium after it had escaped into the venous system during intravenous infusions. In their case massive thrombus formation around the catheter contributed to the patient's death. Several reports2,3 since concern themselves with the successful removal of such catheters from the right side of the heart.

In 1956, Brown and Kent4 reported the first case of fatal perforation of the heart by one of these catheters. Presented below is, to my knowledge, the second fatal case of perforation of the heart by a severed piece of polyethylene tubing which escaped into the vascular system during prolonged intravenous fluid therapy.

Report of a Case  The patient, a 50-year-old white

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