An interesting article was published in the Feb 2010 CJASN by Prabhu et al in which 110 patients were randomized into two groups. One group had ultrasound guided femoral catheter placement and one group did not. The results, not surprisingly, showed that patients who had ultrasound guided vas-cath placement had a higher overall success rate (98.2% vs. 80%), better first attempt success rate (85.5% vs. 54.5%) and had few complications (5.5% vs. 18.2%). Furthermore, of the 11 patient who did not have a successful catheter placed without ultrasound guidance, 10 of these had success with use of the ultrasound in the exact same leg. This article also reviewed 3 other studies comparing ultrasound vs. standard landmark techniques. These studies show similar results.
Another interesting article was published in AJKD in 2009 by Barsuk et al from Nothwestern University. This study looked at the use of an ultrasound compatible central line simulator (like on the picture above) and deliberate practice before actually placing lines on patients. Again two groups were assessed in an unblinded fashion.
- Simulator Group- 12 first-year fellows were trained with the simulator and tested before and 2 weeks after the intervention with a 27 item clinical skills examinations checklist (available from the supplementary data).
- Traditional Group- 6 graduating second-year fellows were tested using the simulator once during the last 2 months of their fellowship.
Results from this study also showed benefit using the central line simulator. Interestingly, only one of the six graduating fellows met the minimum passing score. The simulator group improved dramatically from a score of 29.5% to a score of 88.6%. The course was highly rated by the attendees. It would be interesting to see if complications rates went down after the intervention. Also, I wonder if the higher scores would hold up over time. If I took the same test in a 2 week interval, I’m pretty sure I would score much higher on the second attempt. Especially after attending a 2 hour course.
I hope that more nephrology programs begin instituting programs like the simulator course. Likewise, ultrasound guided vas-cath placement needs to become standard practice. This can only help patient care and improve the competency of the graduating fellows. That being said, how many times do nephrologists in private practice put in temporary catheters? As the interventional radiology field continues to grow, this is surely decreasing.