Ultrasound in Emergency Medicine| Volume 46, ISSUE 4, P519-524, April 2014

Ultrasound-Guidance Can Reduce Adverse Events During Femoral Central Venous Cannulation



      Ultrasound-guidance for internal jugular central venous cannulation (CVC) has become the recommended best practice and has been shown to improve placement success and reduce complications. There is a dearth of studies that evaluate emergency point-of-care ultrasound guidance of femoral CVC.


      Our aim was to determine if point-of-care ultrasound guidance for femoral CVC decreases adverse events and increases the likelihood of successful placement when compared with the landmark technique.


      We conducted an Institutional Review Board–approved, prospective, observational study of consecutive patients who required CVC. Physicians who performed CVC completed a standardized, web-based data sheet for a national CVC registry. We evaluated single-institution data regarding CVC site, ultrasound usage, CVC indication, and mechanical complications (e.g., pneumothorax, arterial puncture, failed access, catheter misdirection, and hematoma). The study period was between January 2006 and June 2010. Analysis using Pearson's χ2 and Agresti-Coull binomial confidence intervals was performed; significance was defined as p < 0.05.


      We evaluated data for 143 patients who had femoral CVC in our institution. Sixty CVCs (42%) were performed under ultrasound guidance, 83 (58%) via landmark technique (p = 0.0159); 3.3% of femoral central venous lines placed by ultrasound guidance had recorded adverse events compared with 9.6% for the landmark technique (p = 0.145). There was no statistically significant difference in complications between ultrasound-guidance and landmark techniques. Our data showed a trend toward decreased rates of arterial puncture and reduced cannulation attempts resulting in improved placement success.


      Our experience shows that ultrasound guidance for femoral CVC might decrease complications and improve placement success, although we cannot recommend this approach without additional data. We recommend a larger study to further evaluate this technique.


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