Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original article
Normal saline flushes performed once daily maintain peripheral intravenous catheter patency: a randomised controlled trial
  1. Silvana Schreiber1,
  2. Chiara Zanchi1,
  3. Luca Ronfani2,
  4. Anna Delise3,
  5. Alessandra Corbelli2,
  6. Rosamaria Bortoluzzi1,
  7. Andrea Taddio3,
  8. Egidio Barbi1
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste, Italy
  2. 2Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste, Italy
  3. 3Department of Paediatrics, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chiara Zanchi, Department of Paediatrics, Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS “Burlo Garofolo”, Via dell'Istria 65, Trieste 34100, Italy; chiara.zanchi{at}


Objective Recent evidence supports the use of normal saline flushes in place of heparin to maintain the patency of peripheral intravenous locks (IVLs); however, there are no data regarding the recommended flush frequency.

Study design This was an open, non-inferiority, randomised controlled trial. Children with IVLs, aged 1–17 years, were randomly assigned to receive saline flushing every 12 h (group A) or every 24 h (group B). The main outcome was the maintenance of catheter patency.

Results Four hundred patients were randomised; 198 subjects were analysed in the 12 h group and 199 in the 24 h group (three patients were lost at follow-up). Occlusion occurred in 15 children (7.6%) in group A versus 9 (4.5%) in group B (p=0.21). The difference in catheter patency was +3.1% in favour of the 24 h group (95% CI −1.6% to 7.7%), showing the non-inferiority of the 24 h procedure (the non-inferiority margin was set at −4%). Catheter-related complications were not different between the two groups (12.1% in group A vs 9.5% in group B; p=0.42).

Conclusions A flushing procedure with one flush per day allows maintenance of catheter patency without an increase in catheter-related complications. We propose a simplification of the flushing procedure with only one flush per day, thereby reducing costs (materials use and nursing time), labour and unnecessary manipulation of the catheters which can cause distress in younger children and their parents.

Trial registration number The study is registered in the international database under registration number NCT02221024.

  • Nursing
  • Nursing Care
  • Paediatric Practice

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.