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Ultrasound guidance commonly is used for the placement of central venous catheters (CVCs). The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends the use of ultrasound for CVC placement as one of its 11 practices to improve patient care. Despite increased access to portable ultrasound machines and comfort with ultrasound-guided CVC access, fewer clinicians are familiar with ultrasound-guided techniques of arterial catheterization. The goal of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to determine the utility of real-time two-dimensional ultrasound guidance for radial artery catheterization.A comprehensive literature search of Medline, Excerpta Medica Database, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials by two independent reviewers identified prospective, randomized controlled trials comparing ultrasound guidance with traditional palpation techniques of radial artery catheterization. Data were extracted on study design, study size, operator and patient characteristics, and the rate of first-attempt success. A meta-analysis was constructed to analyze the data.Four trials with a total of 311 subjects were included in the review, with 152 subjects included in the palpation group and 159 in the ultrasound-guided group. Compared with the palpation method, ultrasound guidance for arterial catheterization was associated with a 71% improvement in the likelihood of first-attempt success (relative risk, 1.71; 95% CI, 1.25-2.32).The use of real-time two-dimensional ultrasound guidance for radial artery catheterization improved first-pass success rate.