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Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2006 Mar;5(1):31-6. Epub 2005 Jul 1.

Vascular access complications after cardiac catheterisation: a nurse-led quality assurance program.

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  • 1Cardiac Catheterisation Unit, Cardiovascular Department, Ospedale S.Croce, Cuneo, Italy. steffenini.g@ospedale.cuneo.it



Vascular access complications may be a cause of discomfort, prolonged hospital stay, and impaired outcomes in patients undergoing cardiac catheterisation.


To assess vascular access complication in our patients with/without the use of closure devices as a first local benchmark for subsequent quality improvement.


A nurse-led single-centre prospective survey of all vascular access complications in consecutive patients submitted to cardiac catheterisation during 4 months.


The radial and femoral access were used in 78 (14%) and 470 (83%), respectively, of 564 procedures, and a closure device was used in 136 of the latter. A haematoma (any size) was isolated and uneventful in 9.6% of cases. More severe complications (haemoglobin loss >2 g, need for blood transfusion or vascular repair) occurred in 1.2% of cases, namely: in none of the procedures with radial access, and in 0.4% and 2.4% of femoral diagnostic and interventional coronary procedures, respectively. During complicated (n=40) vs uncomplicated (n=172) transfemoral interventions, the activated coagulation time was 309+/-83 vs 271+/-71 s (p=0.004), but the use of closure devices was similar.


Severe vascular access complications in our patients were fewer than in most reports, and virtually absent in radial procedures. Vigorous anticoagulation was associated with increased complications in our patients, but closure devices were not. A new policy including both the use of the radial access whenever possible, and a less aggressive anticoagulation regimen during transfemoral interventions will be tested.

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