Complications associated with insertion of jugular venous catheters for hemodialysis: the value of postprocedural radiograph

J Farrell, J Walshe, M Gellens, K J Martin
American Journal of Kidney Diseases 1997, 30 (5): 690-2
It is routine in hemodialysis units to require a chest radiograph after the insertion of an internal jugular line for venous access before dialysis is commenced. There are two principal reasons for this: (1) to ensure that no procedural complications have occurred and (2) to verify correct catheter placement. Knowledge of the time delay involved may prompt nephrologists to opt for femoral access (with increased hemodialysis recirculation and need for repeated line placement). The benefit of the postprocedural chest radiograph has never been evaluated in the hemodialysis population. We retrospectively reviewed the data on internal jugular access placement from two large nephrology training centers. Over a 36-month period, 460 internal jugular dialysis catheters were placed in 312 patients. Wherever possible, 15-cm lines were used for the left internal jugular vein and 12-cm lines for the right internal jugular vein. Ultrasound guidance was used in 105 cases (22.8%). There were a total of 90 (19.6%) clinical complications in 62 patients (13.5%). These consisted of carotid artery puncture (n = 35, 7.6%) and hematoma (n = 55, 12%). All of these patients had a normal post-internal jugular chest radiograph. Carotid artery puncture did not occur if ultrasound guidance was used. There was no case of associated pneumothorax. Of the 370 line insertions in 250 patients in whom it was believed clinically that no complication had occurred, the chest radiograph only showed unsuspected line malposition in four cases (1.08%). Routine chest radiographs rarely contribute to the diagnosis of any procedural complications and are of little value after internal jugular access placement, especially if it is believed clinically that no complication occurred.

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