Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 187–192 | Cite as

Greater saphenous venous access as an alternative in children

  • David J. Aria
  • Seth Vatsky
  • Robin Kaye
  • Carrie Schaefer
  • Richard Towbin
Original Article



In the pediatric population, obtaining venous access in high-risk neonates, severely ill children with cardiac anomalies or very young children (<10 kg) can be very challenging. In the literature to date, the greater saphenous vein has not been primarily used by interventional radiologists as an entry site for venous access in children.


To demonstrate the utility and effectiveness of using the greater saphenous vein as a venous access site for the placement of peripherally inserted central catheters in children.

Materials and methods

This is a retrospective study from a large tertiary care children’s hospital from November 2010 to August 2012. Peripheral insertion of central venous catheters (PICC) using the greater saphenous vein was attempted in 86 children ranging in age from 3 days to 17 years (mean: 1.8 years). Indications included congenital heart disease, urinary tract infection, intravenous access, pneumonia, meningitis, total parenteral nutrition, sepsis and other infections. All procedures were performed by interventional radiologists. No insertion-related complications were identified. There was no follow-up planning, but no mechanical or infectious complications were brought to our attention.


Of the 86 patients in whom PICC placement was attempted, placement was successful in 67 (78%). Forty-two PICCs were placed in the greater saphenous vein at the thigh level using US guidance and 25 at the ankle level using anatomical landmarks. The mean weight of the 67 patients who underwent successful placement was 9.98 kg, with 51 (76%) weighing <10 kg. The mean vessel diameter in placement failures was 1.35 mm compared to 1.83 mm in successful placement. Inability to obtain venous access was the cause of failure in all thigh access sites while inability to advance the catheter centrally was the cause of failure for all ankle access sites. A total of 1,060 catheter days (with a maximum dwell time of 97 days in one patient) were reviewed without complication.


In children, the greater saphenous vein provides a safe, suitable alternative for venous access, particularly in very young children (<10 kg) and in a select group of older children who are not mobile. In the lower extremities, greater saphenous venous puncture and access may be a preferred initial access site in small children to preserve future venous access.


Saphenous vein Venous access Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) Interventional radiology Children 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Aria
    • 1
  • Seth Vatsky
    • 1
  • Robin Kaye
    • 1
  • Carrie Schaefer
    • 1
  • Richard Towbin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyPhoenix Children’s HospitalPhoenixUSA

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