Health Canada warns of injury risk associated with Vascular Access devices

Filed August 25th, 2011 Joshua Sophy

Health officials in Canada have issued a warning about the possibility of “Catheter Pinch-Off” associated with Central Vascular Access medical devices.

According to a release from Health Canada, Central Vascular Access Devices are generally thought to be considered safe but reports from inside the country suggest they are not fail-safe.

Central Vascular Access devices are catheters used to get regular access to the vascular system for the regular dose of drugs, taking regular samples of blood, the introduction of fluids or “parenteral nutrition solutions.”

Health Canada has become aware of several reports in which “compression and fracture of the catheter” leads to “subsequent embolizaton of the fractured distal fragments.” If these devices malfunction, it could lead to serious injuries. Pinching of the catheter line will not promote the aspiration of blood from the device and could result in chest pains or irregular heart rhythms.

Problems with these medical devices malfunctioning are most serious when the catheter migrates to the pulmonary artery of the heart, regulators noted. Health Canada makes the following three recommendations to reduce the risk of catheter pinch-off and related injuries:

1. Review the labelling of relevant devices, especially sections concerning warnings and implantation instructions.
2. Remain vigilant for early signs of catheter pinch-off problems. Stop using the catheter line when blood cannot be aspirated from the catheter, when the catheter cannot be flushed easily and/or whenever a catheter pinch-off related problem is suspected, and perform chest radiograph as needed to rule it out.
3. Consider a follow up with chest radiograph in patients with long-term central vascular access devices. Educate patients to inform healthcare professionals when experiencing pain or other abnormal symptoms upon flushing or infusion of fluids through the catheter line.

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