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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 1998 Nov-Dec;9(6):927-34.

Importance of Doppler analysis of transmitted atrial waveforms prior to placement of central venous access catheters.

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Department of Radiology, University of California Medical Center, San Diego 92103-8756, USA.



To assess the sensitivity of Doppler flow analysis of the axillary and internal jugular veins to screen for clinically occult thoracic central veno-occlusive disease and predict successful placement of central access catheters.


Sixty-seven patients underwent both duplex sonographic evaluation of the axillary and internal jugular veins and contrast venography prior to placement of a central venous catheter. Duplex evaluation included visual evidence of veno-occlusive disease as well as the presence or absence of normal transmitted polyphasic atrial waves and respiratory variation of flow. Diagnostically adequate venograms were available for comparison with the duplex sonograms in 168 access routes (access site plus downstream conduit veins). The contrast venograms and sonograms were compared by using retrospective blinded interpretation. Outcome of attempted catheter placement was tabulated.


Directed sonographic imaging of the axillary and internal jugular vein allowed detection of access route veno-occlusive disease with a sensitivity of only 33.3%. Alternatively, when Doppler flow analysis found atrial waveforms that were not polyphasic, central conduit occlusive disease was detected with a sensitivity of 79.6%. Monophasic atrial waveforms were associated with a 25% failure rate of catheterization due to central vein occlusive disease, whereas polyphasic atrial waveforms were correlated with a 100% success rate for catheter placement.


In asymptomatic patients, sonographic imaging alone misses most instances of central veno-occlusive disease. However, Doppler flow analysis of transmitted atrial waveforms substantially improved the sensitivity. A normal polyphasic atrial waveform virtually excludes the possibility of a more central venous occlusion or stenosis greater than 80% and ensures an adequate route for central venous catheterization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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