Highlights

  • Correct central venous catheter length reduces extravasation-related injuries

  • Correct length is needed for infusion of vesicant or irritant therapies in patients

Abstract

Central venous catheters are used extensively throughout critical care, anesthesia, and emergency medicine, and are now growing increasingly in their use outside of the critical care arena. With the mounting need to preserve patients' vessel health for future therapies, central venous catheterization is often an essential therapeutic intervention for many patients and is not without risk. There is an ever-growing volume of published extravasation injuries associated with peripheral intravenous devices and the power injection of contrast media in both adult and child health. Compared with the pediatric and neonatal populations, there is almost no evidence related specifically to inappropriate central venous catheter length and extravasation within the adult domain. Any type of extravasation poses a serious risk for the patient, and significant tissue-related consequences require immediate attention to restrict further injury. The accurate length for any central venous catheter is considered a vital patient factor when a device is selected for parenterally administered therapies; and while this is not the sole contributory indicator, it is a consideration that should not be overlooked by the inserting clinician. This paper explores the singularity of inappropriate catheter length, through corroborating evidence and a case study, as a plausible cause for central venous catheter extravasation-related injuries, and seeks to provide a clearer understanding for all clinicians with regard to recognizing correct catheter length when inserting or when providing safe central venous catheter practices and management.

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