How Important is Heparin for Preventing Occlusion of Catheters in Pediatrics?

According to a recent Cochrane review, heparin use is NOT more effective than saline flushes. Thanks to Ben Gold for providing this reference.

Bradford NK, Edwards RM, Chan RJ. Link: Normal saline (0.9% sodium chloride) versus heparin intermittent flushing for the prevention of occlusion in long-term central venous catheters in infants and children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;4(4):CD010996. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010996.pub3.

Key findings:

  • The four trials (n=255) directly compared the use of normal saline and heparin; the studies all used different protocols for the intervention and control arms, however, and all used different concentrations of heparin.
  • The estimated RR for CVC occlusion per 1000 catheter days between the normal saline and heparin groups was 0.75 (95% CI 0.10 to 5.51; 2 studies, 229 participants; very low certainty evidence).
  • The estimated RR for CVC‐associated blood stream infection was 1.48 (95% CI 0.24 to 9.37; 2 studies, 231 participants; low‐certainty evidence).
  • The duration of catheter placement was reported to be similar for the two study arms in one study (203 participants; moderate‐certainty evidence), and not reported in the remaining studies.
  • This is in agreement with another updated Cochrane review assessing the effectiveness and safety of intermittent locking of CVCs with heparin vs. normal saline to prevent occlusion in adults (11 studies; N=2,392). The pooled analysis did show fewer occlusions with heparin than with normal saline (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.51 to 0.95; P = 0.02; 1672 participants; 1025 catheters from 10 studies; I² = 14%), but it is based on a very low-quality of evidence given the differences in methodology, unclear allocation concealment, imprecision, and suspicion of publication bias. (López-Briz E, Ruiz Garcia V, Cabello JB, et al. Heparin versus 0.9% sodium chloride locking for prevention of occlusion in central venous catheters in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;7(7):CD008462. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008462.pub3)

My take: This review found there was not enough evidence to determine which solution, saline or heparin, is more effective for reducing complications.

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Is It OK To Swim With A Central Line?

D Wendel et al. JPGN 2021; 72: 474-486. Free full text: Management of Central Venous Access in Children With Intestinal Failure: A Position Paper From the NASPGHAN Intestinal Rehabilitation Special Interest Group

This is a very useful article with recommendations for central venous access in children. The main recommendations are summarized in Table 3 & listed below; however, there is a lot of detailed information in the article on frequent issues like schools, travel (including dealing with TSA), sports, and even swimming. In addition, the article delineates recommendations for management and prevention of line complications.

1. Recommendations for venous access:

  • Tunneled, single lumen, cuffed silicone catheters should be used for children with IF.
  • Upper extremity access is the preferred location when available.

2. Recommendations pertaining to routine CVC care:

  • Proper technique and hygiene surrounding CVC care are of paramount importance in preventing CVC-associated complications. Caregivers should receive directed education regarding CVC care before initial discharge, with subsequent reinforcement education as needed.
  • CHG impregnated supplies (disk, sponge, or dressing) should be considered for central line dressing in pediatric IF patients.
  • Routine surveillance of central venous access should be performed by US. MR, CT, or traditional venography should be reserved for when further delineation of access is required.

3. Recommendations regarding general considerations—sports, travel, and emergencies:

  • All children with IF should be provided with an emergency letter that details the specific needs of the individual child in case of an emergency. (See at bottom for example -Figure 1)
  • Discuss with families the risks of swimming and sports participation with strategies to protect the dressing and central line.
  • All travel plans should be discussed with the intestinal rehabilitation team well in advance of travel to facilitate discussion of a plan of care in case of emergency.

4. Recommendations regarding central line-associated bloodstream infections:

  • All children with IF and CVC who develop a fever (≥38.0°C) should be admitted to the hospital and assessed for bacteremia with central and peripheral blood cultures while receiving broad-spectrum empiric antibiotics through the CVC for at least 48 h, awaiting culture results regardless of other infectious sources.
  • If clinically stable, discuss with the patient’s IRP before line removal for CLABSI.
  • Prophylactic lock therapy with ethanol or other nonantibiotic locks should be strongly considered in all children with IF who have had at least one central line-associated bloodstream infection or are at high risk for infection.

5. Recommendations pertaining to central line mechanical complications:

  • In children with IF, CVC should be repaired whenever possible to preserve central venous access.
  • Children with IF and a newly identified CRT should be treated with low molecular weight heparin for at least 6 weeks with guidance from a hematologist.
  • Children with IF who have persistence of at least one chronic thrombus should be maintained on prophylactic anticoagulation with low molecular weight heparin.
  • Children who have lost multiple sites of central venous access should be considered for referral to an intestinal transplant center for evaluation and management

6. Recommendations for central venous access program management:

  • All centers following children with IF should, at a minimum, track the number of outpatient CLABSI per 1000 catheter days.

With regard to swimming: “Swimming introduces an incompletely defined but potentially severe risk to those requiring chronic central venous access. Contamination of various chlorine-treated (swimming pools), stagnant (lakes and ponds), and flowing (oceans and rivers) bodies of water with human pathogens has been well documented, though proper maintenance may minimize outbreaks. The potentially fatal risk of such contaminants gaining access to central circulation via the CVC is unclear…Parents seeking guidance are confronted by mixed messaging from support programs, online resources and blogs, and even IRP. These conflicting recommendations and practices reflect the paucity of data to guide a safe and clear approach for swimming with a central line…[in one study of 16 home PN programs] swimming in low-risk situations [was permitted but] recommended immediate site cleaning and dressing change following water exposure and avoidance of submersion for 4–6 weeks after CVC placement. Ultimately, the decision to permit children with IF to swim lies with the parent or guardian.”

For pets (like Charlie), this article notes that “steps should be taken to promote line integrity in the presence of pets. Particularly in the setting of pets that may attempt to chew or play with tubing, adequate physical protection of the insertion site and catheter itself is recommended. Any line or tubing puncture by an animal should prompt immediate evaluation. Family awareness of zoonotic disease risk and advocacy of handwashing before and after animal care should be made clear.”
Figure 1 -Emergency Letter Template

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Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Deluge of Liver Disease Due to COVID-19?

Two articles in a recent issue of Hepatology describe both direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on the liver.

The first study with 2273 patients (MM Phipps et al Hepatology 2020; 72: 807-817. Full Text: Acute Liver Injury in COVID‐19: Prevalence and Association with Clinical Outcomes in a Large U.S. Cohort), with retrospective data, describes how most cases of COVID-19 are mild. Severe cases of liver disease are generally a marker for elevated inflammatory markers and severe systemic disease. Key findings:

  • 45% had mild (ALT <2 x ULN), 21% moderate (ALT 2-5 x ULN), and 6.4% severe liver injury (SLI) (ALT >5 x ULN).
  • Patients with SLI had a more severe clinical course, including higher rates of intensive care unit admission (69%), intubation (65%), renal replacement therapy (RRT; 33%), and mortality (42%).
  • In multivariable analysis, peak ALT was significantly associated with death or discharge to hospice (OR, 1.14; P = 0.044), controlling for age, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, intubation, and RRT

Going into this new year, the more concerning effects of COVID-19 pandemic for the liver is likely to be the increase is severe chronic liver disease related to alcohol (and perhaps fatty liver disease too). The second article (BL Da et al. Hepatology 2020; 72: 1102-1108. Coronavirus Disease 2019 Hangover: A Rising Tide of Alcohol Use Disorder and Alcohol‐Associated Liver Disease) discusses the expectation of increased liver disease due to alcohol use disorder (AUD) and alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD). Key points:

  • In China, reports indicate a “>2-fold increase in harmful drinking after COVID-19, an effect likely repeated in the United States where an estimated 12.7% of the population has AUD and ALD is responsible for the highest hospitalization cost burden among all chronic liver diseases (CLDs).”
  • Increased alcohol use is likely to worsen other chronic liver diseases in addition to ALD
  • In addition, all of these effects are compounded by avoidance of health care facilities and delays in care

My take: COVID-19 infections have direct effects on the liver. However, the increased use of alcohol as well as weight gain are likely to be more important in terms of liver-related morbidity and mortality.

More Often Than Not Esophagitis in Children with Esophageal Atresia is NOT due to Reflux

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I was taught that children with esophageal atresia would have reflux for life due to dysmotility following repair. Thus, these children presumably should remain on acid blockers indefinitely. It turns out that this was fiction (just like Star Wars).

R Tambucci et al J Pediatrics 2021; 228: 155-165. Full text: Evaluation of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease 1 Year after Esophageal Atresia Repair: Paradigms Lost from a Single Snapshot?

In this retrospective study with 48 children, the authors had the following key points:

  • Microscopic esophagitis was found in 33 (69%)
  • Pathological esophageal acid exposure on MII-pH was detected in 12 (25%)
  • The presence of long-gap esophageal atresia was associated with abnormal MII-pH.

The authors conclude that “histological esophagitis is highly prevalent at 1 year after esophageal atresia repair, but our results do not support a definitive causative role of acid-induced GERD. Instead, they support the hypothesis that chronic stasis in the dysmotile esophagus might lead to histological changes.”

My take: Along with endoscopy, pH probe testing can be helpful in selecting which children with esophageal atresia should continue with PPI therapy.

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Oley: Check it out

Recently, I received a post from Oley Foundation (Linda May) asking me whether I was going to its convention.  While I am not, I did want to share that link:
The conference is in lovely Redono Beach, CA, right on the beach. We have miles of running paths, beautiful beaches, on site tennis courts, and swimming pool . To quote other MDs, “the Oley Annual conference is the most important clinical conference I attend all year…”

Also, Oley website is a good link for patients with enteral tubes, ostomies, and central lines.

Many questions and how-to advice available.  For example, look at this link if interested in advice about swimming with central line, or enteral tube: