How is adequate venous access achieved in the treatment of sepsis/septic shock?

Updated: Oct 07, 2020
  • Author: Andre Kalil, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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In all cases of septic shock, adequate venous access must be ensured for volume resuscitation. When sepsis is suspected, 2 large-bore (16-gauge) intravenous (IV) lines should be placed if possible to allow administration of aggressive fluid resuscitation and broad-spectrum antibiotics. Central venous access is useful when administering vasopressor agents and in establishing a stable venous infusion site but is not mandatory.

If the hypotension does not respond to a crystalloid fluid bolus of 30 mL/kg (1-2 L) over 30-60 minutes or if fluids cannot be infused rapidly enough, a central venous catheter should be placed in the internal jugular or subclavian vein. This catheter allows administration of medication centrally and provides multiple ports for rapid fluid administration, antibiotics, and vasopressors if needed. It also allows measurement of central venous pressure (CVP), a surrogate for volume status, if CVP measurement capability is available.

If an intravascular access device is suspected as the source of sepsis or septic shock, alternative vascular access must be obtained, and the suspect device must then be removed.

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