This study evaluated clinical problems resulting from jugular catheterization, including infection, hemorrhage, phlebitis, venous thrombosis, and mechanical complications. Data involving consecutively placed polyurethane jugular catheters were analyzed in a 6-month period. The study included 12 cats and 81 dogs with a median age of 5 years and median American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) scores of 4 (medical patients) and 3 (surgical patients). A total of 100 jugular catheters were placed in 93 patients, and 393 catheter-days were quantified over the study period; 39% of catheters had at least 1 complication associated with use. A total of 51 complications were noted, with 0.13 complications per catheter-day (41 mechanical complications in 36 catheters and 10 inflammatory or infectious complications in 8 catheters). Complications were more frequently identified in patients for which more than a single attempt to place the catheter had occurred and in patients with ASA scores of 3 to 5. In addition, infectious complications were associated with lack of anesthesia for placement, placement outside of a surgical suite, and presence of medical disease. This finding suggested that mechanical complications are regularly involved in maintenance of jugular catheters.

Commentary: Jugular catheters are becoming more readily used in veterinary medicine, especially in critically ill patients. They are a useful tool because they not only provide venous access for treatments but also can be used for blood sampling and monitoring central venous pressure. Jugular catheters can also be left in for longer periods of time and have less risk for contamination than do peripheral IV catheters. This article describes complications associated with 100 jugular catheters. Many factors can contribute to catheter-related complications, and the researchers thoroughly evaluated those factors and related complications. The incidence of associated complications was relatively low: The most common problem was loss of the catheter, which should be preventable with different securing techniques. These results should help support the willingness to use jugular catheters in our patients because their benefits seem to outweigh the risks.

Prospective evaluation of complications associated with jugular venous catheter use in a veterinary hospital. J SMALL ANIM PRACT 51:254-257, 2010.