Venous access required both for blood sampling and for the delivery of medicines and nutrition is an integral element in the care of sick infants and children. Peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) have been shown to be a valuable alternative to traditional central venous devices in adults and neonates. However, the evidence may not extrapolate directly to older paediatric patients. In this study, we therefore review the indications, methods of insertion and complications of PICC lines for children beyond the neonatal age to provide clinical recommendations based on a search of the current literature. Although the literature is heterogeneous with few randomised studies, PICCs emerge as a safe and valuable option for intermediate- to long-term central venous access in children both in and out of hospital. Insertion can often be performed in light or no sedation, with little risk of perioperative complications. Assisted visualisation, preferably with ultrasound, yields high rates of insertion success. With good catheter care, rates of mechanical, infectious and thrombotic complications are low and compare favourably with those of traditional central venous catheters. Even in the case of occlusion or infection, fibrinolytics and antibiotic locks often allow the catheter to be retained.
Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, 2013, Vol 57, Issue 3, p. 278-87