Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing

, Volume 31, Issue 5, pp 951–959 | Cite as

Central venous catheter tip migration due to tracheal extubation: a prospective randomized study

  • Manuel F. StruckEmail author
  • Theresa Jünemann
  • Konrad Reinhart
  • Wolfram Schummer
Original Research


Considerable numbers of patients undergo central venous catheterization (CVC) under mechanical ventilation. We hypothesized that the return of spontaneous breathing and tracheal extubation could be associated with distal CVC tip migration towards intracardiac positions due to decreasing intrathoracic pressures and subsequent readjustment of mediastinal organs. Patients scheduled for cardiac surgery were randomized for right or left internal jugular vein (IJV) CVC placement under general anesthesia and mechanical ventilation. CVC tips were positioned at the cavoatrial junction and measured at the time of placement, postoperatively under mechanical ventilation, and after tracheal extubation until 48 h after surgery. Measurement methods included intravascular electrocardiography (ECG) P-wave amplitude, transesophageal echocardiography, and chest radiography (CXR). Out of 70 patients, 60 were eligible for final statistical analysis (31 right and 29 left IJV CVC). According to ECG interpretation, CVC tip positions remained below the pericardiac reflection point in the distal superior vena cava over the course of the three measurement intervals. The ECG revealed significant proximal migration of CVC tips from the time of placement to the time of tracheal extubation (1.19 ± 0.55 vs. 0.62 ± 0.31 mV; P < 0.001). A CXR using CVC tip to carina distances revealed no significant tip migrations in the time between postoperative assessment and following tracheal extubation (5.1 ± 1.7 vs. 5.3 ± 1.5 cm; P = 0.196). In patients with CVCs positioned at the cavoatrial junction, tracheal extubation was not associated with significant postoperative CVC tip malposition, but tended to undergo proximal migration. This trend should be considered particularly in left-sided thoracocervical puncture approaches to avoid unfavorable CVC tip positions.


Central venous catheter Mechanical ventilation Malposition Electrocardiography Radiography 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel F. Struck
    • 1
    Email author
  • Theresa Jünemann
    • 2
  • Konrad Reinhart
    • 3
  • Wolfram Schummer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care MedicineUniversity Hospital LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care MedicineSRH Wald-Klinikum GeraGeraGermany
  3. 3.Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care MedicineUniversity Hospital JenaJenaGermany

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