Table 1.

Major benefits and risks associated with the use of central venous catheters

BenefitsRisks
 High likelihood of successful insertionInsertion risks
 Does not require venipuncture  Hemothorax
 Can be inserted into multiple sites  Pneumothorax
 Allows for maturation of fistula or graft  Air embolism
 Bridging dialysis  Arrhythmia
 Allows measurement of hemodynamic variables  Pericardial tamponade
 Can be used immediately after insertion  Atrial and venous perforation
 Ability to be used for months to few years  Dissection/occlusion
 Ease of use and painless accessUse risks
 Absence of cardiopulmonary recirculation  Luminal thrombosis (8,38)
 Relative ease of managing thrombotic complications  Infection (8488)
 Availability of catheter repair without need for exchange  Poor function/unreliable blood flows
 Low cost of placement and exchange  Limited functional longevity (38,84)
  Inflammation
  Increased rate of hospitalization (8992)
  Increased risk of death (9395)
  Increased cost (70,94)
  Central venous stenosis/stricture
  Vascular ingrowth
  Fibrin sheath formation
  Fibrin tail or flap formation
  Patient cosmetic concern
  • Most complications (risks) of catheter placement are apparent shortly after catheter placement. Complications seen during use of the catheter can occur any time after placement.