Umbilical Artery Catheterization

Updated: Feb 24, 2017
  • Author: Taylor L Sawyer, DO, MEd, FAAP, FACOP; Chief Editor: Vincent Lopez Rowe, MD  more...
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The first cannulation of an umbilical artery is attributed to Dr Virginia Apgar in the late 1950s. Today, umbilical artery catheterization is a common procedure in the neonatal intensive care unit and has become the standard of care for arterial access in neonates. The umbilical artery can be used for arterial access during the first 5-7 days of life, but it is rarely used beyond 7-10 days. Placement of an umbilical artery catheter is easy in principle but often challenging in practice.

Umbilical artery catheterization affords direct access to the arterial blood supply and allows accurate measurement of arterial blood pressure, serves as a source of arterial blood sampling, and provides intravascular access for fluids and medications. [1]



Indications for umbilical artery catheterization include the following:

  • Continuous arterial blood pressure monitoring
  • Arterial blood gas sampling
  • Blood sampling for other laboratory tests and studies
  • Exchange transfusion
  • Angiography
  • Infusion of maintenance fluids when other routes are not available


Contraindications for umbilical artery catheterization include the following: