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Open Access Highly Accessed Case report

Percutaneous subclavian artery stent-graft placement following failed ultrasound guided subclavian venous access

Brent Burbridge*, Grant Stoneham and Peter Szkup

Author Affiliations

Academic Department of Medical Imaging, University of Saskatchewan, Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

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BMC Medical Imaging 2006, 6:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2342-6-3

Published: 5 May 2006

Abstract

Background

Ultrasound guidance for central and peripheral venous access has been proven to improve success rates and reduce complications of venous cannulation. Appropriately trained and experienced operators add significantly to diminished patient morbidity related to venous access procedures. We discuss a patient who required an arterial stent-graft to prevent arterial hemorrhage following inadvertent cannulation of the proximal, ventral, right subclavian artery related to unsuccessful ultrasound guided access of the subclavian vein.

Case presentation

During pre-operative preparation for aortic valve replacement and aorto-coronary bypass surgery an anesthetist attempted ultrasound guided venous access. The ultrasound guided attempt to access the right jugular vein failed and the ultrasound guided attempt at accessing the subclavian vein resulted in inappropriate placement of an 8.5 F sheath in the arterial system. Following angiographic imaging and specialist consultations, an arterial stent-graft was deployed in the right subclavian artery rather than perform an extensive anterior chest wall resection and dissection to extract the arterial sheath. The patient tolerated the procedure, without complication, despite occlusion of the right internal mammary artery and the right vertebral artery. There were no neurologic sequelae. There was no evidence of hemorrhage after subclavian artery sheath extraction and stent-graft implantation.

Conclusion

The attempted ultrasound guided puncture of the subclavian vein resulted in placement of an 8.5 F subclavian artery catheter. Entry of the catheter into the proximal subclavian artery beneath the medial clavicle, the medial first rib and the manubrium suggests that the operator, most likely, did not directly visualize the puncture needle enter the vessel with the ultrasound. The bones of the anterior chest impede the ultrasound beam and the vessels in this area would not be visible to ultrasound imaging. Appropriate training and supervised experience in ultrasound guided venous access coupled with quality ultrasound equipment would most likely have significantly diminished the likelihood of this complication. The potential for significant patient morbidity, and possible mortality, was prevented by implantation of an arterial stent-graft.