Umbilical arterial catheters (UACs) are used in neonatal care for arterial sampling and need to be carefully assessed on all neonatal films.
The catheter should pass through the umbilicus, travel inferiorly through the umbilical artery, then in the anterior division of the internal iliac artery, into the common iliac artery and then into the aorta. It is essential to ensure that the tip of the catheter is not in a branch of the aorta (where it could block the vessel or instill a high concentration solution directly into an organ-feeding vessel, such as the renal artery).
The tip of the catheter should thus be placed in one of two locations:
- high position: at T6 to T10 level
- low position: at L3 to L5 level
Intermediate positions are generally undesirable due to potential associated thromboses of major aortic branches between T10 to L3.
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