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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1995 May;109(5):885-90; discussion 890-1.

Axillary artery: an alternative site of arterial cannulation for patients with extensive aortic and peripheral vascular disease.

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  • 1Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Cleveland Clinical Foundation F25, OH 44195, USA.


The increasing number of patients with extensive aortic and peripheral vascular atherosclerosis or aneurysms who are undergoing cardiac operations present difficult decisions as to the optimal site of arterial cannulation for cardiopulmonary bypass. Femoral artery cannulation is the most common alternative to ascending aortic cannulation, but severe iliofemoral disease or the danger of atheroemboli caused by retrograde perfusion through an atherosclerotic or aneurysmal descending aorta may make this approach impossible or undesirable. We have used axillary artery cannulation for cardiac operations in 35 patients for indications including severe aortic atherosclerosis (n = 16), extensive aortic aneurysms (n = 11), and aortic dissection (n = 8). The cardiac operations performed were coronary artery bypass grafting (n = 9) aortic valve replacement (n = 1), aortic valve replacement and coronary artery bypass grafting (n = 5), repair of mitral valve periprosthetic leak (n = 1), and resection of ascending and/or aortic arch (n = 19). Deep hypothermia with circulatory arrest was used in 26 patients and retrograde cerebral perfusion in 18. All patients awoke from the operation and no patient had a cerebrovascular accident. One patient required axillary artery thrombectomy and one patient had a mild ipsilateral brachial plexus paresis after the operation. Four patients died in the hospital. We conclude that axillary artery cannulation is a safe and effective means of providing antegrade arterial flow during cardiopulmonary bypass in patients with severe atherosclerotic or aneurysmal disease. This strategy may lower the prevalence of stroke associated with cardiopulmonary bypass in these patients.

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