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February 1985

Risky Business: Umbilical Arterial Catheterization

Author Affiliations

Division of Neonatology Department of Pediatrics University of California TB-193 Davis, CA 95616

Am J Dis Child. 1985;139(2):120-121. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1985.02140040018016

Since first described more than 20 years ago, the use of umbilical arterial catheters (UACs) has become standard practice in the treatment of sick newborn infants. More than 277,000 UACs were sold in the United States in 1983 (K. Henderson, oral communication, April 1984). Our experience at a large referral center suggests that these were used to treat 2% of all infants born that year. Although the benefits to these patients generally outweigh the risks, the continued observation of complications emphasizes that UACs do entail risks to the patient. Experience with alternative techniques for BP monitoring and vascular access continues to increase; therefore, we need to reexamine periodically the relationship between the risks and benefits of UACs to reduce the risk for our patients.

Countless infants have benefited from UACs. The usual indication for catheterizing an umbilical artery is to gain arterial access for reliable monitoring of BP and for