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Umbilical Artery Catheter in Newborns

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about an umbilical artery catheter?

An umbilical artery catheter (UAC) is a small flexible tube that is put into an umbilical cord stump artery. Your baby's umbilical cord stump has 1 vein and 2 arteries.

Why does my baby need a UAC?

  • To draw blood samples or give a transfusion
  • To measure the amount of oxygen and other gases in your baby's blood
  • To give IV fluids and medicines
  • To check blood pressure

What will happen during a UAC procedure?

Your baby will be placed on his or her back. Your baby's arms and legs may be secured so that he or she does not move during the procedure. Your baby's surgeon will place the catheter in the artery. An x-ray may be taken to check that the catheter is placed correctly. The surgeon may attach the catheter to the umbilical stump with stitches. The catheter will be taped to your baby's belly so that it cannot be pulled out.

What will happen after the UAC procedure?

You may not be able to hold your baby while the UAC is in. Comfort your baby by gently placing your hands on his or her arms or legs. Speak softly to your baby. Ask about the best ways to support your baby.

How is the UAC removed?

Your baby's provider will pull the catheter out. He or she will put a bandage over the umbilical stump and gently squeeze your baby's belly. This is to make sure the artery closes and does not bleed. Your baby's UAC may be removed for the following reasons:

  • Your baby's health is stable or improves.
  • The catheter causes an infection.
  • Your baby's catheter is blocked or no longer works.
  • The catheter causes problems with the artery.

What are the risks of a UAC?

Your baby may get an infection. The catheter may damage the artery and cause internal bleeding. Organs, such as your baby's kidneys or intestines, may be damaged. The catheter may cause spasms in your baby's blood vessels. Your baby may have trouble breathing or get a blood clot in his or her limb. This may become life-threatening.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.