Glossary Entry: Umbilical Catheter


Definition: An umbilical catheter is a medical device inserted into the umbilical vein or artery of a newborn infant. It serves as a means of administering medications, fluids, and nutrients, as well as monitoring blood pressure and obtaining blood samples in neonatal intensive care settings.

Detailed Description

Types and Variations

Variations: Umbilical catheters come in different sizes and may be single or double lumen. They are available in various lengths to accommodate different gestational ages and sizes of newborns.


Common Uses: Umbilical catheters are commonly used in preterm infants or critically ill newborns who require close monitoring and frequent access to the circulatory system.

Insertion and Placement

Procedure: The umbilical catheter is inserted through the umbilical vein or artery with attention to correct placement using imaging guidance. The Seldinger technique may be utilized for insertion, ensuring proper positioning and minimizing the risk of complications.

Clinical Considerations

Potential Complications

Risks: Complications associated with umbilical catheter use include infection, thrombosis, vessel perforation, or displacement of the catheter.

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance Requirements: It is essential to maintain strict aseptic technique during insertion and care of the umbilical catheter. Regular monitoring and assessment of the insertion site are necessary to detect any signs of complications.

Additional Information

Related Devices

Associated Terms: Umbilical catheters are often used in conjunction with umbilical artery catheters, and also require accessories such as catheter stabilization devices and infusion tubing.

Innovations and Advancements

Recent Developments: Recent advancements in umbilical catheter technology focus on the development of catheters with reduced infection risk and improved long-term patency.

Regulatory and Safety Notes

Regulations: Regulatory considerations include strict adherence to guidelines for the insertion and maintenance of umbilical catheters to prevent complications and ensure patient safety.

What is an umbilical catheter used for?

An umbilical catheter is used in neonatal care to deliver medication, fluids, or blood directly into the umbilical vein of newborn babies.

How is an umbilical catheter inserted?

An umbilical catheter is gently inserted into the umbilical vein, located in the baby’s umbilical cord stump, to provide the necessary medical intervention.

Are umbilical catheters safe for newborns?

When inserted and managed correctly by trained healthcare professionals, umbilical catheters are considered safe and effective for newborns in need of medical treatment.

Do umbilical catheters pose any risks to babies?

While umbilical catheters are generally safe, they can pose risks such as infection, blood clots, or displacement if not properly inserted or managed. Close monitoring is essential to prevent complications.

How long can umbilical catheters remain in place?

The duration for which an umbilical catheter can remain in place varies depending on the baby’s medical needs. Healthcare providers will determine the appropriate length of time for its use.

Can umbilical catheters be used at home?

Umbilical catheters are typically used in medical facilities under the supervision of healthcare professionals and are not recommended for home use due to the specialized care they require.

How are umbilical catheters removed?

Umbilical catheters are removed by healthcare providers using a gentle and careful technique to avoid any discomfort or complications for the baby.

What complications can arise from umbilical catheter use?

Complications from umbilical catheter use may include infection, thrombosis, embolism, or incorrect placement, highlighting the importance of proper insertion and monitoring protocols.

How should parents prepare for their baby to have an umbilical catheter?

Parents should stay informed about the reasons for using an umbilical catheter, learn about the procedure, and communicate openly with the medical team to address any concerns or questions they may have.

Is specialized training required to insert and manage umbilical catheters?

Yes, healthcare professionals need specialized training to safely insert and manage umbilical catheters, ensuring the well-being and safety of newborns in medical care.