Between 1985 and 1988 the use of percutaneous venous catheters in the intensive care of newborn infants was evaluated. A total of 140 polyurethane catheters used in 91 patients were compared with 143 silicone catheters in 121 neonates. Patients of both series were comparable regarding sex, weight, gestational age and severity of disease. Insertion technique, puncture site care and infusions remained the same for both observation periods. Peripheral insertion of silicone catheters required more venous cutdowns but threading them to a central vein or the right atrium was more often successful. Fewer local complications (i.e. reddening or swelling along the peripheral venous access) resulted in a longer catheter duration and a less frequent need for an additional venous access in the silicone group. On the other hand, silicone catheters caused more technical problems (i.e. rupture or obstruction). Upon removal, more silicone than polyurethane catheter tips were colonized with bacteria. This was independent of catheter duration and was never followed by clinical signs of infection. The silicone catheter gave better results, especially in very small newborn infants of low gestational age, but was associated with more technical problems.
Percutaneous central venous cathetersPolyurethane catheterSilicone catheterNewborn infantParenteral nutrition