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QUESTION 3. Cannula patency: should we use flushes or continuous fluids, or heparin?
  1. Rebekah Pryce
  1. Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend, UK

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    During a ward round on the special care nursery the junior doctor is asked to prescribe continuous fluids to maintain the patency of a cannula for the use of intermittent antibiotics. According to departmental protocol, all babies and children have continuous fluids run at a few millilitres per hour to ensure the cannula remains patent in between medication doses. You wonder whether intermittent fluid flushes would be as effective.

    Structured clinical question

    1. Is continuous infusion or intermittent flushing (intervention) better for patency of intravascular cannulas (outcome) in neonates or children (patients)?

    2. In children and neonates requiring intravenous therapy (patients) does adding heparin (intervention) to the fluid improve patency (outcome)?


    A literature search was conducted using the following databases: the Cochrane Library, EBMR, Medline and PubMed, with the following search strategies: intravenous or fluids or flushes; intravenous therapy …

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    • Competing interests None declared.

    • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.