OBJECTIVE: To compare outcomes of peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) placed in the upper extremity (UE) versus the lower extremity (LE) in a quaternary medical-surgical neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
RESULTS: We analyzed a total of 365 PICCs of which 250 (68%) were removed for end of therapy and 115 (32%) were removed due to complications. Patients who had UE insertions compared to LE insertions were of lower gestational age (median (IQR)), 30 (26, 35) vs. 32 (27, 37) weeks respectively (p = 0.014). UE PICCs were more likely to be removed due to complications compared to LE PICCs (39.9% vs. 26.4%, RR 1.51, 95% CI 1.12 –2.03, p = 0.007). UE PICCs were more likely than LE PICCs to be removed for the complications of malposition, dislodgement, and pleural or pericardial effusions; while LE PICCs were more likely to be removed for phlebitis. There were no differences in the rates of sepsis at 13.0% vs. 12.8% for UE vs. LE respectively, or causal organisms for sepsis. Survival analysis demonstrated that LE PICCs had a longer time to removal for a complication (p = 0.031).
CONCLUSIONS: LE compared with UE PICCs were not associated with worse outcomes in a medical-surgical neonatal population that included a significant proportion of full-term neonates, and provide a valuable alternate site for central venous access. Increased awareness of the types of complications for UE compared with LE PICCs may help focus preventive and surveillance efforts based on PICC location, to improve safety and minimize the complications of NICU PICCs.
Outcomes of upper extremity versus lower extremity placed peripherally inserted central catheters in a medical-surgical neonatal intensive care unit