A challenging and frequent problem in premature neonates is vascular access because of their very small blood vessels.
The use of small tourniquets and direct light has been the traditional technique, but its limitations are most apparent in the extremely small child. In the last three years we have been using Light Emitting Diodes (Red light) to transiluminate the vascular structures in arms and legs in these small patients, this has improved significantly the visualization and access of the vascular structures in our smallest patients. Light Emitting Diodes (LED) are small and inexpensive devices that emit powerful "Cold light" capable to transiluminate a portion of an infant's extremity without burning the area of contact.
The individual working on the IV access virtually sees through the tissues to place a catheter at the precise location of the extremity. According to an extensive search of the available literature, this LED application for vascular access in small newborns has not been described. In our physician's and neonatal nurse's hands, it is a simple and very efficient procedure for vascular access in the smallest patients.
This paper presents an overview of vascular access technique using LED in the premature infant.