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Date of last update: 9/9/2017.

Forum Name: Pediatric Topics

Question: picc line in preemie

 picc line questions - Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:42 pm

My son was born at 26 weeks and 4 days and passed away after one week. The final results of his autopsy have not come back but my sons doctor said that it was most likely caused by the picc line that he had. He said that the baby had fluid around his heart which had constricted his heart from beating and he died very suddenly and unexpected. He said that from what they could see, the picc line was in the right place.
Is fluid around the heart a typical risk when using the picc line? If so, is it something they should have been watching for?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Tue Dec 12, 2006 9:42 pm

User avatar I am sorry to hear of your loss.

I did a search of the literature for this and found that pericardial effusions (fluid around the heart) can occur with PICC lines in premature infants. From the data I saw it occurs about 1-2% of the time. While this may seem like a lot, keep in mind that this means that 99 out of every 100 premies with PICC lines will not develop such a complication. Infants are routinely sent home with PICC lines to complete medical treatment. Pericardial effusions are a rare complication of PICC lines. Unfortunately, there isn't much to watch for, and the fluid can become constrictive quite rapidly. The treatment is to drain the effusion quickly with a needle. Unfortunately, at home, drainage is often not possible in time.

I hope this helps, and I send my best regards to you and your family.

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