Real-time ultrasound-guided infraclavicular axillary vein cannulation: A prospective study in mechanically ventilated critically ill patients

Tomasz Czarnik, Ryszard Gawda, Jakub Nowotarski
Journal of Critical Care 2016, 33: 32-7

PURPOSE: The main purpose of this study was to define the venipuncture and catheterization success rates and early mechanical complication rates of ultrasound-guided infraclavicular axillary vein cannulation.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed in-plane, real-time, ultrasound-guided infraclavicular axillary vein catheterizations under emergency and nonemergency conditions in mechanically ventilated, critically ill patients.

RESULTS: We performed 202 cannulation attempts. One hundred and twenty-six procedures (62.4%) were performed under emergency conditions. The puncture of the axillary vein was successful in 98.5% of patients, and the entire procedure success rate was 95.1% (95% confidence interval, 91.1%-97.6%). For the majority of patients (84.1%; P<.001, exact test), the venipuncture occurred during the first attempt. We noted a 22.4% overall complication rate, and most of the complications were malpositions (13.4%). We observed 8.5% of cases with potentially serious complications (puncture of the axillary artery and needle contact with the brachial plexus) and 1 case (0.5%) of pneumothorax. The puncture of the axillary artery occurred in 5 (2.5%) patients.

CONCLUSIONS: In-plane, real-time, ultrasound-guided, infraclavicular axillary vein cannulation in mechanically ventilated, critically ill patients is a safe and reliable method of central venous cannulation and can be considered to be a reasonable alternative to other central venous catheterization techniques.

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