UMEM Educational Pearls

Femoral venous access is typically limited to the acute resuscitation of critically-ill patients. Several practice-guidelines recommend avoiding the femoral site, or removal once admitted to the ICU, because of the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infection (CRBI) and deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis (including two randomized-control trials and eight cohort-studies) evaluated the risk of CRBI and DVT for catheters placed in either the internal jugular, subclavian, or femoral-venous sites. No difference in the rate of CRBI or DVT was found between the three sites, although the DVT data was less robust (i.e., contained heterogeneous data).

The authors hypothesized that improvements in sterility during central-line placement (e.g., full-barrier precautions), improved nursing care (e.g., central-line site care), and ultrasound guidance may have led to a reduction in femoral site complications. 

Although a prospective randomized-control trial is necessary to confirm these results, this meta-analysis challenges the traditional teaching that femoral central-access should be avoided.


Marik, P. et al. The risk of catheter-related bloodstream infection with femoral venous catheters as compared to subclavian and internal jugular venous catheters: A systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis Crit Care Med. 2012 Aug;40(8):2479-85.

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