A randomised trial of intracavitary electrocardiography versus surface landmark measurement for central venous access device placement

Evan Alexandrou*, Nicholas Mifflin, Craig McManus, Vanno Sou, Steven A. Frost, Ritesh Sanghavi, David Doss, Sugendran Pillay, Kenny Lawson, Anders Aneman, Evangelos Konstantinou, Claire M. Rickard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Malpositioned central venous access devices (CVADs) can lead to significant patient injury including central vein thrombosis and dysrhythmias. Intra-cavitary electrocardiography (IC ECG) has been recommended by peak professional bodies as an accurate alternative for bedside CVAD insertion, to reduce risk of malposition and allowing immediate use of the device. Our objective was to compare the effect of IC ECG on CVAD malposition compared to traditional institutional practice for CVAD placement. Methods: Randomised controlled trial of IC ECG CVAD insertion verses traditional CVAD insertion (surface landmark measurement with post insertion x ray). Patient recruitment was from December 2016 to July 2018. The setting was a 900-bed tertiary referral hospital based in South Western Sydney, Australia. Three hundred and forty-four adult patients requiring CVAD insertion for intravenous therapy, were enrolled and randomly allocated (1:1 ratio) to either IC-ECG (n = 172) or traditional (n = 172) CVAD insertion. Our primary outcome of interest was the rate of catheters not requiring repositioning after insertion (ready for use). Secondary outcomes were comparison of procedure time and cost. Results: Of the 172 patients allocated to the IC ECG method, 170 (99%) were ready for use immediately compared to 139 of the 172 (81%) in the traditional insertion group (difference, 95% confidence interval (CI): 18%, 11.9–24.1%). The total procedure time was mean 15 min (SD 8 min) for IC ECG and mean 36 min (SD 17 min) for traditional CVAD insertion (difference–19.9 min (95% CI–14.6 to −34.4). IC ECG guided CVAD insertion had a cost reduction of AUD $62.00 per procedure. Conclusions: Using IC-ECG resulted in nearly no requirement for post-insertion repositioning of CVADs resulting in savings in time and cost and virtually eliminating the need for radiographic confirmation. Trial registration: This trial is registered at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (http://www.anzctr.org.au). The registration number is ACTRN12620000919910.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1372-1380
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vascular Access
Issue number6
Early online date8 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • catheter tip confirmation
  • Central venous access device
  • intracavitary ECG


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