Insertion of an umbilical catheter is the placement of a tube into the arteries or vein of a baby's umbilical stump.
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This procedure is done to deliver treatment or take blood samples in newborns. It can lower the number of needle sticks a baby needs. It may be used to:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Some may be:
Certain measurements will be taken. This will help to determine how far the catheter is passed into the blood vessels.
Anesthesia may not be needed. The umbilical stump does not have pain nerves. The child will not feel pain.
The baby’s stomach and umbilical cord will be cleaned. The top part of the stump will have the clamp that was placed right after birth. A cloth will be tied below the clamp, closer to the stomach. The umbilical stump will be removed just above the tie. The catheter will be inserted into the artery or vein of the stump. The catheter will be passed into place.
An x-ray will be taken to make sure the catheter is in the right place. The catheter will be stitched into place. The umbilical stump may also be taped to the belly.
The baby will be monitored. This includes watching the legs for any change in color and monitoring breathing and heart rate.
15 to 30 minutes
A baby cannot feel pain through the umbilical cord.
Length of stay depends on a child's overall health and need for the catheter.
Staff will take steps to prevent infection in the catheter, such as:
Treatment will be delivered through the catheter as needed.
The catheter will likely be removed before going home. There are no special steps that need to be taken after it is removed.
Call your child's doctor if your child is not recovering as expected or your child has:
If you think your child has an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
The Hospital for Sick Children—About Kids Health
Insertion of umbilical vessel catheters. University of Iowa Children’s Hospital website. Available at: https://uichildrens.org/health-library/insertion-umbilical-vessel-catheters. Accessed January 13, 2020.
Umbilical catheter placement and care: Performing. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated May 5, 2017. Accessed January 13, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD