The failure and complications of central venous access devices (CVADs) result in interrupted medical treatment, morbidity, and mortality for the patient. The resulting insertion of a new CVAD further contributes to risk and consumes extra resources.


To systematically review existing evidence of the incidence of CVAD failure and complications across CVAD types within pediatrics.


Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health databases were systematically searched up to January 2015.


Included studies were of cohort design and examined the incidence of CVAD failure and complications across CVAD type in pediatrics within the last 10 years. CVAD failure was defined as CVAD loss of function before the completion of necessary treatment, and complications were defined as CVAD-associated bloodstream infection, CVAD local infection, dislodgement, occlusion, thrombosis, and breakage.


Data were independently extracted and critiqued for quality by 2 authors.


Seventy-four cohort studies met the inclusion criteria, with mixed quality of reporting and methods. Overall, 25% of CVADs failed before completion of therapy (95% confidence interval [CI] 20.9%–29.2%) at a rate of 1.97 per 1000 catheter days (95% CI 1.71–2.23). The failure per CVAD device was highest proportionally in hemodialysis catheters (46.4% [95% CI 29.6%–63.6%]) and per 1000 catheter days in umbilical catheters (28.6 per 1000 catheter days [95% CI 17.4–39.8]). Totally implanted devices had the lowest rate of failure per 1000 catheter days (0.15 [95% CI 0.09–0.20]).


The inclusion of nonrandomized and noncomparator studies may have affected the robustness of the research.


CVAD failure and complications in pediatrics are a significant burden on the health care system internationally.

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