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Alternative NamesPAL - infants; Art line - infants
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A peripheral arterial line (PAL) is a small, short plastic catheter placed through the skin into an artery of the arm or leg. This article discusses the use of PALs in babies.
WHY IS A PAL USED?
The main reason to use a PAL is to continuously watch your baby’s blood pressure. It also allows the health care team to take frequent blood samples without needing to stick your baby more than once. A PAL is most often used if your baby has severe lung disease requiring mechanical ventilation or blood pressure problems requiring the use of very strong medications.
HOW IS A PAL PLACED?
The health care provider inserts the small catheter into the artery and connects it to an IV bag and blood pressure monitor.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF A PAL?
The most serious risk for a PAL is interruption of the blood supply to the hand or foot. Prevention of this complication is usually possible by testing before the PAL is placed. The NICU nurses carefully monitor your baby for this possible problem.
Compared to standard IVs, bleeding is a greater risk, but infection is a lower risk with PALs.Update Date: 11/27/2007 Updated by: Deirdre O'Reilly, MD, MPH, Neonatologist, Division of Newborn Medicine, Childrens Hospital Boston and Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.