Totally implantable venous access devices in children with cystic fibrosis: incidence and type of complications

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Totally implantable vascular access devices (TIVADs) are accepted as a safe and effective method of facilitating long term intravenous therapy. We report our experience of the use of these devices in children with cystic fibrosis with a particular focus on the incidence and type of complications.


The medical records of patients with cystic fibrosis who underwent placement of a TIVAD at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia from January 1987 to October 1996 were reviewed. Venous ultrasonography with Doppler was performed in surviving patients with a TIVAD in situ from November 1996 to April 1997 to detect occult thrombotic complications.


A total of 57 TIVAs were implanted in 44 children with a median functional duration of 700 days (range 27-3347 days). Twenty one children had devices inserted without complications. Forty eight complications (30 mechanical, 18 infectious) occurred in 36 devices in 23 children during a total functional duration of 53 057 catheter days. Mechanical complications occurred in 53% of devices (one per 1712 catheter days). Symptomatic venous thrombosis occurred five times in four patients (9%). Infectious complications occurred in 32% (one per 2948 catheter days) while sepsis occurred in five devices (9%). Doppler ultrasonography detected unsuspected thrombosis in two of 10 patients examined.


While TIVADs provided effective long term intravenous access, septic and thrombotic complications caused significant morbidity in this population. Careful patient selection, adherence to aseptic technique for access and blood sampling, and periodic ultrasonography with Doppler to detect early thrombosis may help reduce these risks.

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