Routine Chest Radiographs in Children After Image-Guided Central Lines Offer Little Diagnostic Value

Aaron J. Cunningham, Meredith B. Haag, Kristen V. McClellan, Sanjay Krishnaswami, Nicholas A. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the utility of postoperative chest radiograph (CXR) after image-guided central venous line (CVL) placement in children. Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of all tunneled CVLs placed at two pediatric institutions from 2010 to 2017. A subgroup analysis comparing a clinically driven approach to postoperative imaging against routine imaging was performed. Results: During the study period, 1080 lines were placed in 915 patients. There were 892 postoperative CXRs (82.6%). An abnormality was seen on 40 radiographs (4.5%, n = 891), with 16 false-positive (1.3%) and 5 false-negative (0.6%) CXRs. The sensitivity and specificity of CXR to identify complications requiring intervention were 50.0% (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 10.0-90.0) and 95.8% (95% CI, 94.5-97.1), respectively. Positive predictive value of CXR was 7.5% (95% CI, 0-15.7) with a negative predictive value of 99.6% (95% CI, 99.2-100). A clinically driven approach to postoperative imaging was associated with 41% decrease in CXR (P < 0.001) without increased incidence of missed complications. Only three complications requiring intervention (0.3%) were suspected on postoperative CXR alone, and all of those were symptomatic before intervention. Conclusions: Routine postoperative CXR offers minimal value in identifying technical complications requiring intervention after image-guided CVL placement in asymptomatic children. We recommend abandoning this practice in favor of a clinical symptom-driven approach to postoperative imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-240
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Central venous line
  • Chest radiograph
  • Pediatric
  • Resource utilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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