Benefit and risk of heparin for maintaining peripheral venous catheters in neonates: a placebo-controlled trial
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OBJECTIVES: Heparin addition to infusion fluids is used to prolong catheter patency in newborns. Heparin may also induce adverse effects such as bleeding complications and immune-mediated heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). One objective was peripheral venous catheter patency with heparinization of continuous infusions (0.5 IU/mL). Secondary objectives were incidences of bleeding, clinically manifest HIT, HIT antibodies, and catheter-related complications. STUDY DESIGN: Inclusion criteria were anticipated need for intravenous peripheral infusion (>or=5 days for HIT-related endpoints) and postnatal age <28 days at study entry. Exclusion criteria were bodyweight <1000 g, congenital malformation, need for therapeutic anticoagulation or mechanical ventilation, and severe bleeding. HIT antibodies were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RESULTS: A total of 145 infants received heparin, and 151 infants received saline. Patient characteristics, number of additional drugs, duration of treatment, and location and size of catheters did not differ. Patency of catheters was 7.4 hours longer in the heparin group (33.8 hours vs 26.4 hours, P<.0001), but the total numbers of catheters did not differ (565 vs 692, P=.3). No infant developed HIT antibodies. Incidences of bleeding complications and thrombocytopenia were comparable between groups. CONCLUSIONS: Balancing the benefits against the risks of heparin addition and the rare complication of HIT, we will not use 0.5 IU/mL heparin addition to parenteral fluids.
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