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Learning About Umbilical Venous Catheters in Newborns

What is an umbilical venous catheter?

An umbilical venous catheter is a thin, flexible tube. The tube is put in a blood vessel in a newborn baby's belly button (umbilicus). The tube can be used to get blood for testing. And it can be used to give medicine, nutrition, and fluids.

The belly button is where the umbilical cord was attached to the baby before birth. In the womb, nutrients from the mother came through several large blood vessels in the cord. These blood vessels can stay open for a couple of weeks after the baby is born.

With a catheter, your baby won't need to be stuck with a needle each time medicine, fluids, or a blood test is needed. It can be used as long as your baby needs extra care.

How is the catheter inserted?

The doctor finds the blood vessels at the end of your newborn's belly button. Then he or she cleans the area and slides the tube into one of the blood vessels. An X-ray is done to make sure that the end of the tube is at the right place inside your baby's body. The other end is taped to the baby's stomach.

What can you expect when your baby has an umbilical catheter?

Your baby will be comfortable and warm.

Your baby may need the catheter for a short time or a longer time. It depends on his or her health.

When the catheter is no longer needed, the doctor gently pulls the tube out.

These catheters are usually very safe. But there is a small chance of problems, such as a blood clot or an infection.

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