Umbilical Catheter (Patient Information)

What is an umbilical catheter?
An umbilical catheter is a very tiny tube passed into one of the vessels in the umbilical cord.
What is an umbilical catheter for?
Many babies with breathing problems requiring oxygen will need an umbilical artery catheter (UAC). The main purpose for putting in an umbilical artery catheter is to have a way to frequently test blood gas levels. Examples of blood gases are oxygen and carbon dioxide. These levels help the intensive care team taking care of the baby know how to treat his/her breathing problems.
UAC's are also useful for giving fluids and medications, collecting blood for other lab tests, and measuring blood pressure.
Your baby's umbilical cord has two arteries and one vein. The catheter is usually passed into one of the arteries. This is a painless procedure because there are no nerves in the umbilical cord.
Additional Information:
Occasionally, a catheter will be placed into the vein of the umbilical cord. This is called a umbilical venous catheter (UVC). Umbilical venous catheters are usual for giving fluids and medications and for other special procedures as well.