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Positioning long lines: contrast versus plain radiography
  1. A Reece,
  2. T Ubhi,
  3. A R Craig,
  4. S J Newell
  1. Neonatal Unit, St James's University Hospital, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK
  1. Dr Newellnewells{at}


AIM To assess the value of contrast versus plain radiography in determining radio-opaque long line tip position in neonates.

METHODS In a prospective study, plain radiography was performed after insertion of radio-opaque long lines. If the line tip was not visible on the plain film, a second film with contrast was obtained in an attempt to visualise the tip.

RESULTS Sixty eight lines were inserted during the study period, 62 of which were included in the study. In 31, a second radiographic examination with contrast was necessary to determine position of the tip. In 29 of these, the line tip was clearly visualised with contrast. On two occasions, the line tip could not be seen because the contrast had filled the vein and obscured the tip from view. Eight of the lines that required a second radiograph with contrast were repositioned.

CONCLUSION Intravenous contrast should be routinely used in the assessment of long line position in the neonate.

  • long lines
  • radiography
  • contrast
  • cardiac tamponade

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