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Ultrasound assessment of umbilical venous catheter migration in preterm infants: a prospective study
  1. Jan Franta1,
  2. Andrei Harabor2,
  3. Amuchou S Soraisham2,3
  1. 1National Neonatal Transport Programme, National Maternity Hospital, Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital, Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2Department of Pediatrics, Section of Neonatology, Cumming School of Medicine, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  3. 3Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amuchou S Soraisham, Foothills Medical Centre, University of Calgary, Room C-211, 1403, 29th Street NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 2T9, Canada; asoraish{at}


Objectives To evaluate the umbilical venous catheter (UVC) tip position by ultrasound and compare it with standard radiograph findings and to examine the catheter tip migration rates during the first week of life.

Design Prospective observational study of inborn preterm infants who had an UVC placed and its position radiographically confirmed. The first ultrasound was done on UVC placement at median (IQR) age of 2 hours (1–4) and follow-up scans at a median (IQR) age of 34 hours (27–44 hours), 77 hours (70–94 hours) and 6 days (5–7 days) after insertion. Catheter tip was considered in optimum position if tip was lying in the inferior vena cava up to the right atrium opening.

Results We studied 65 infants at a mean (±SD) gestational age and birth weight of 26.4 (±2.1) weeks and 808 (±289) g, respectively. Ultrasound confirmed optimum position of UVC tip in 25/65 (38.5%) infants. Majority (38/40) of the malpositioned catheters were located inside the heart with 15 reaching the left atrium. Catheter tip migration occurred in 29 of 58 infants (50%) at any time during the first week. The proportions of UVC migration were found to be 17%, 31% and 29% on subsequent ultrasound with a trend to outward movement over time.

Conclusion UVC tip localisation by standard radiography is very imprecise, and catheter tip migration occurs in a significant proportion of infants during first weeks of age. We suggest ultrasound as the best modality to assist localisation and follow-up of UVC tip in preterm infants.

  • Migration
  • Preterm
  • Radiograph
  • Ultrasound
  • Umbilical Venous catheter

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  • Contributors JF contributed in study design, data acquisition and review of the manuscript and approved the final article as submitted. AH participated in study design, data collection, interpretation of the findings and drafting the manuscript, and approved the final article as submitted. ASS conceptualised the study, designed and supervised the data collection, analysed the data and critically reviewed the article and approved the final article as submitted.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Parental/guardian consent obtained.

  • Ethics approval Conjoint Health Research Ethics Board, University of Calgary, Canada.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.