SonoStudy: Meta-analysis of 9 trials – ultrasound use for peripheral IVs in kids and adults #FOAMed

Not that we didnt already know this, but at least we have more data to say it is so – in a recent study in Annals of Emergency medicine – a meta analysis reviewed 9 trials – both kids and adults.

This concept has been getting a lot of press, and many of my ultrasound enthusiast friends have passed this around. It’s good to know the concept – and use it when you are in a conversation with someone who thinks the blind technique it still the way to go.

“Pediatric trials yielded conflicting data, the authors reported February 18 online in Annals of Emergency Medicine, but there appeared to be significantly fewer attempts and shorter procedure times when ultrasound guidance was used in the emergency department, as well as significantly decreased risk of first-attempt failure, reduced attempts, and shorter procedure time when ultrasound guidance was used in the operating room…..”Ultrasonographically guided peripheral intravenous cannulation may perform better in the pediatric population because failure rates with the traditional method are much higher in children than adults,” the researchers note. “Ultrasonography may not be as beneficial in adults, in whom target vessels are easier to locate.” – Now, these trials were from operating room patients, where the setting is a bit more controlled, the patients may be a bit different in their difficult IV access spectrum – but the authors still suggest that if faced with a difficult IV – use ultrasound.

Below is the abstract:

Study objective

Peripheral intravenous cannulation is procedurally challenging and painful. We perform a systematic review to evaluate ultrasonographic guidance as an aid to peripheral intravenous cannulation.


We searched MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Web of Science,, and We included randomized trials evaluating ultrasonographically guided peripheral intravenous cannulation and reporting risk of peripheral intravenous cannulation failure, number of attempts, procedure time, or time from randomization to peripheral intravenous cannulation. We separately analyzed pediatric and adult data and emergency department (ED), ICU, and operating room data. Quality assessment used the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool.


We identified 4,664 citations, assessed 403 full texts for eligibility, and included 9 trials. Five had low risk, 1 high risk, and 3 unclear risk of bias. A pediatric ED trial found that ultrasonography decreased mean difference (MD) in the number of attempts (MD −2.00; 95% confidence interval [CI] −2.73 to −1.27) and procedure time (MD −8.10 minutes; 95% CI −12.48 to −3.72 minutes). In an operating room pediatric trial, ultrasonography decreased risk of first-attempt failure (risk ratio 0.23; 95% CI 0.08 to 0.69), number of attempts (MD −1.50; 95% CI −2.52 to −0.48), and procedure time (MD −5.95; 95% CI −10.21 to −1.69). Meta-analysis of adult ED trials suggests that ultrasonography decreases the number of attempts (MD −0.43; 95% CI −0.81 to −0.05). Ultrasonography decreased risk of failure (risk ratio 0.47; 95% CI 0.26 to 0.87) in an adult ICU trial.


Ultrasonography may decrease peripheral intravenous cannulation attempts and procedure time in children in ED and operating room settings. Few outcomes reached statistical significance. Larger well-controlled trials are needed.

For more info and a how-to for ultrasound guided procedures, including ultrasound-guided peripheral IV and central IV acces – go here.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s