Use of Ultrasound Guidance for Central Venous Catheter Placement: Survey From the American Board of Emergency Medicine Longitudinal Study of Emergency Physicians


Objectives: The objective was to survey practicing emergency physicians (EPs) across the United States
regarding the frequency of using ultrasound (US) guidance in central venous catheter (CVC) placement
and, secondarily, to determine factors associated with the use or barriers to the use of US guidance.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey mailed to presumed practicing EPs as part of the American
Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM)’s longitudinal study of EPs. The selection process used stratified,
random sampling of cohorts thought to represent four different stages within the development of the
specialty of emergency medicine (EM). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent
factors associated with both high comfort using US guidance and high-percentage usage of US

Results: The survey was mailed to 1,165 subjects, and the response rate was 79%. The median number
of years of practice was 20 (interquartile range [IQR] = 7 to 28 years). As their primary practice setting,
64% work in private or community hospitals, 60% received training in US-guided vascular access, and
44% never use US guidance in placing CVCs. Barriers differed in those who never use US and those
who sometimes or always used US guidance. In those who never use US, top barriers were insufficient
training (67%) and lack of equipment (25%). In those who use US, top barriers were the perceptions that
US was too time-consuming (27%) and that the preferred site was not amenable to US (24%).
Independent factors associated with high comfort and high-percentage use of US guidance were training
in US-guided vascular access (adjusted odds ratio = 5.1 [high comfort]; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.6
to 10.1; adjusted odds ratio 11.1 = (high percentage); 95% CI = 5.0 to 24.8) and being a recent residency

Conclusions: Among EPs, the translation of evidence to clinical practice regarding the benefits of US
guidance for CVC placement is poor and still faces many barriers. Training and education are potentially
the best ways to overcome such barriers.

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