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January 1973

Liver Abscess in Newborn: Complication of Umbilical Vein Catheterization

Author Affiliations

From the departments of surgery (Drs. Williams, Rittenberry, and Allen) and pediatrics (Dr. Dillard), University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Memphis, City of Memphis Hospital.

Am J Dis Child. 1973;125(1):111-113. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1973.04160010075018

A hypoglycemic neonate had an umbilical venous catheter inserted to monitor serum glucose level and to infuse alkalinizing and hypertonic glucose solutions. The catheter was left in place for five days and was believed to be causally related to development of a liver abscess and meningitis. The same two strains of Escherichia Coli were cultured from the catheter tip, the abscess cavity, and cerebrospinal fluid. The abscess was drained and along with the meningitis, resolved without obvious sequelae. To our knowledge, this is the first reported liver abscess as a complication of umbilical vein catheterization.

A review of the reported hepatic complications of umbilical vein catheterization is presented and the pathogenesis of the abscess is proposed. In conclusion, the limitations and indications of the umbilical vein catheter are emphasized.