Adult ‘PICC’ Device May be Used as a Tunnelled Central Venous Catheter in Children


This technique has been described by Pittiruti for years now, so it’s interesting to hear another experience on it in terms of safety and effectiveness.


Central venous access in children, in particular small children and infants, is challenging. We have developed a technique employing adult peripherally inserted central venous catheters (PICCs) as tunnelled central venous catheters (TCVCs) in children. The principal advantage of this novel technique is that the removal technique is less complex than that of conventional cuffed TCVCs. The catheter can be removed simply by being pulled out and does not require general anaesthesia. The purpose of this study is to determine the success, safety and utility of this technique and to identify the rate of late complications. We describe the 6-year experience in our unit.

Materials and Methods

Electronic and paper medical records were reviewed for consecutive paediatric patients who had a PICC device inserted as a TCVC over a 6-year period (September 2009 through July 2015). The following data were recorded—patient demographics, setting for PICC as TCVC insertion, use of ultrasound and fluoroscopy, PICC device type, early or late complications and date of and reason for removal.


Twenty-one PICCs were inserted as TCVCs in 19 children, all aged less than 10 years. Mean patient age at the time of placement was 3.7 years. Average patient weight was 15.7 kg. All insertions were successful with no significant immediate complications recorded. The most common indication for insertion in our patient sample was pseudo-obstruction secondary to gastrointestinal dysmotility disorder (24%), with cystic fibrosis infective exacerbation being the second most frequent diagnosis (14%). Suspected catheter-related infection led to early device removal in one case (4.8%). Inadvertent dislodgement occurred in one case (4.8%). Nineteen of the 21 devices (90.4%) lasted for the total intended duration of use.


Using a PICC device as a TCVC in small children appears to be a safe technique, with an acceptable complication profile.

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