Anesthesia & Analgesia: September 2016 – Volume 123 – Issue 3 – p 705–714
AUTHORS: Chau, Destiny F. MD et al
BACKGROUND: Complex surgical and critically ill pediatric patients rely on syringe infusion pumps for precise delivery of IV medications. Low flow rates and in-line IV filter use may affect drug delivery. To determine the effects of an in-line filter to remove air and/or contaminants on syringe pump performance at low flow rates, we compared the measured rates with the programmed flow rates with and without in-line IV filters.
METHODS: Standardized IV infusion assemblies with and without IV filters (filter and control groups) attached to a 10-mL syringe were primed and then loaded onto a syringe pump and connected to a 16-gauge, 16-cm single-lumen catheter. The catheter was suspended in a normal saline fluid column to simulate the back pressure from central venous circulation. The delivered infusate was measured by gravimetric methods at predetermined time intervals, and flow rate was calculated. Experimental trials for initial programmed rates of 1.0, 0.8, 0.6, and 0.4 mL/h were performed in control and filter groups. For each trial, the flow rate was changed to double the initial flow rate and was then returned to the initial flow rate to analyze pump performance for titration of rates often required during medication administration. These conditions (initial rate, doubling of initial rate, and return to initial rate) were analyzed separately for steady-state flow rate and time to steady state, whereas their average was used for percent deviation analysis. Differences between control and filter groups were assessed using Student t tests with adjustment for multiplicity (using n = 3 replications per group).
RESULTS: Mean time from 0 to initial flow (startup delay) was <1 minute in both groups with no statistical difference between groups (P = 1.0). The average time to reach steady-state flow after infusion startup or rate changes was not statistically different between the groups (range, 0.8–5.5 minutes), for any flow rate or part of the trial (initial rate, doubling of initial rate, and return to initial rate), although the study was underpowered to detect small time differences. Overall, the mean steady-state flow rate for each trial was below the programmed flow rate with negative mean percent deviations for each trial. In the 1.0-mL/h initial rate trial, the steady-state flow rate attained was lower in the filter than the control group for the initial rate (P = 0.04) and doubling of initial rate (P = 0.04) with a trend during the return to initial rate (P = 0.06), although this same effect was not observed when doubling the initial rate trials of 0.8 or 0.6 mL/h or any other rate trials compared with the control group.
CONCLUSIONS: With low flow rates used in complex surgical and pediatric critically ill patients, the addition of IV filters did not confer statistically significant changes in startup delay, flow variability, or time to reach steady-state flow of medications administered by syringe infusion pumps. The overall flow rate was lower than programmed flow rate with or without a filter.