The Practice and Complications of Midline Catheters: A Systematic Review

Sandeep Tripathi, Shruti Kumar, Shubhi Kaushik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Midline catheters are considered "midway" regarding vascular access. The objective of this systematic review was to explore the current practice, dwell time, and complication rates of midline catheters. DESIGN: Systematic review. SETTING: Search on four databases, PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, and Embase, were conducted for English language articles published after the year 2000. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: A total of 987 articles were identified, of which 31 manuscripts met the inclusion criteria and were selected for review. Quality assurance was performed based on the Newcastle-Ottawa score. Average dwell time and complication rates were calculated for studies involving adult patients and adjusted for sample size. This analysis included data from the placement of 18,972 midline catheters across five countries. Aside from two randomized control trials, most of the studies analyzed were cohort studies. One pediatric and two neonatal studies were included. The average dwell time was 16.3 days (n = 4,412). The adjusted mean infection rate was 0.28/1,000 catheter days, with 64% of studies not reporting any infection with midline catheter. The failure rate of midline catheters was 12.5%. Adjusted average rates of other significant complications included the following: deep vein thrombosis (4.1%), dislodgement (5.0%), occlusion (3.8%), phlebitis (3.4%), and infiltration (1.9%). Conclusions: The dwell times and failure rates of midline catheters compare favorably against published data on other types of catheters. Their infection rates are also lower than the reported rates of central venous catheters; however, they have a higher rate of mechanical complications. Active surveillance of infections due to midline catheters is recommended. More data are needed from pediatric and neonatal populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E140-E150
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • catheterization
  • central line
  • critical care
  • midline catheters
  • peripheral
  • peripherally inserted central venous catheter line
  • vascular access devices


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