Background: Long term venous catheters have been used to deliver specialized therapies since 1968. The ideal tip position of a central venous catheter provides reliable venous access with optimal therapeutic delivery, while minimizing short-and long-term complications. Ideal position limits have evolved and narrowed over time, making successful placement difficult and unreliable when depending exclusively on the landmark technique.

Objective: To review and analyze contemporary literature and calculate an overall accuracy rate for first attempt placement of a PICC catheter in the ideal tip position.

Methods: Key PICC placement terms were used to search the database PubMED-indexed for MEDLINE in June and October, 2009. The selection of studies required: a patient cohort without tip placement guidance technology; a documented landmark technique to place catheter tips; data documenting initial catheter placement and, that the lower third of the SVC and the cavo-atrial junction (CAJ) were included in the placement criteria. With few exceptions, articles written between 1993 and 2009 met the stated selection criteria. A composite of outcomes associated with tip placement was analyzed, and an overall percent proficiency of accurate catheter tip placement calculated.

Results: Nine studies in eight articles met the selection criteria and were included for analysis. Rates of first placement success per study ranged from 39% to 75%, with the majority (7/9) being single center studies. The combined overall proficiency of these studies calculated as a weighted average was 45.87%.

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