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May 1973

Umbilical Catheter Complications

Am J Dis Child. 1973;125(5):767. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1973.04160050105022

To the Editor.  —J. W. Williams et al (Am J Dis Child 125:111-113, 1973) state, after a thorough review of the literature, that "this is the first reported liver abscess [in a newborn] as a complication of umbilical vein catheterization.""Liver Abscess Following Exchange Transfusion for Erythroblastosis Fetalis" was reported in 1961 by Cohen and Dresner.1 It was pointed out at the time that leaving a catheter in the vein for several days can predispose to septic thrombophlebitis of the umbilical vein and liver abscess. The administration of penicillin while the catheter was in situ did not prevent the complication. When the child was 7 years of age he presented the typical picture of portal hypertension.Allen and Diamond2 advised against leaving the catheter in the umbilical vein after exchange transfusion, even though it may be difficult to reinsert the catheter if the exchange has to be repeated.