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Pericardial effusion and cardiac tamponade as complications of neonatal long lines: are they really a problem?
  1. K Beardsall1,
  2. D K White1,
  3. E M Pinto2,
  4. A W R Kelsall1
  1. 1Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Rosie Maternity, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Centre for Applied Medical Statistics, University of Cambridge, Institute of Public Health, Robinson Way, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr K Beardsall, Neonatal Unit, Rosie Maternity, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK;


Aim: To estimate the frequency of pericardial effusion/cardiac tamponade associated with the use of neonatal percutaneous long lines (PLLs) over the past five years.

Method: A retrospective nationwide postal survey, of all neonatal and special care units in the United Kingdom.

Results: Eighty two cases of pericardial effusion/cardiac tamponade were reported from the five year period, during which we estimate that 46 000 PLLs were inserted. The calculated frequency of pericardial effusion/cardiac tamponade occurring with PLLs was 1.8/1000 lines. There were 30 deaths, giving a fatality rate after pericardial effusion of 0.7/1000 lines.

Conclusions: Pericardial effusion/cardiac tamponade is a serious but infrequent complication of PLL use.

  • percutaneous long line
  • pericardial effusion
  • cardiac tamponade

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