October 1975

Serious Complications After Umbilical Artery Catheterization for Neonatal Monitoring

Author Affiliations

From the departments of surgery (Drs. Marsh, King, and Fonkalsrud) and pediatrics (Dr. Barrett), UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles.

Arch Surg. 1975;110(10):1203-1208. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1975.01360160041006

Umbilical artery catherization in critically ill neonates caused major complications, including five deaths, in 15 of 165 infants with respiratory distress syndrome who underwent autopsy at the UCLA Hospital during the past eight years. Arterial occlusion leading to visceral infarction occurred in 12 patients, and vascular perforation caused hemoperitoneum in three patients. Repeated catheter manipulation and protracted catheter use were common factors identified in patients in whom complications developed. Restricted indications for catheter use, routine roentgenographic confirmation of catheter tip location below the kidneys, low-dosage heparin sodium infusion, use of cannulas with decreased thrombogenicity, avoidance of catheter manipulation, and vigilance to remove catheters when no longer required should reduce the incidence of this iatrogenic neonatal complication while still permitting arterial pressure and blood gas monitoring when clinically indicated.