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Minerva Anestesiol. 2019 Jul 4. doi: 10.23736/S0375-9393.19.13670-X. [Epub ahead of print]

Ultrasound-guided central venous catheter placement through the axillary vein in cardiac critical care patients: safety and feasibility of a novel technique in a prospective observational study.

Author information

Cardiovascular Department, Alessandro Manzoni Hospital, Lecco, Italy -
Division of Cardiology, Monaldi Hospital, Naples, Italy.
Cardiovascular Department, Alessandro Manzoni Hospital, Lecco, Italy.
Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Emergency, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy.



Central venous catheterization is essential for careful administration of fluids and drugs in cardiac critical care patients. The axillary vein might represent an alternative to subclavian and jugular vein accesses, with the advantage of being extra-thoracic, more distal from the pleural space and with more likehood of comfort for the patient. Conventional ultrasound-guided cannulation of the axillary vein is technically demanding and does not guarantee precise visualization of the needle tip.


We describe a new in-plane technique with a dedicated bracket support for the needle, giving full tip control and continuous visualization of the tip and vessel, making the maneuver easier and safer. In an prospective observational study we also report the feasibility and safety of the novel procedure in a series of 35 cardiac critical care patients, also receiving non- invasive ventilatory support and/or being fully anti-coagulated.


With the novel technique, we obtained 97% success with procedural times comparable to other insertion sites and without complications.


Placement of a central line catheter in the axillary vein using a novel ultrasound- guided bracket-assisted technique may be a feasible, safe and rapid alternative to the conventional jugular and subclavian approaches.

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