The role of ultrasound guidance for vascular access

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Purpose of review

Ultrasound-guided cannulation of the internal jugular vein has become a standard practice over recent years. Despite known benefits, ultrasound is less frequently used for other vascular applications probably because these are technically demanding and require more experience. The authors of this review focus on pitfalls of ultrasound guidance: most important practical aspects as well as nonroutine vascular applications are discussed.

Recent findings

Ultrasound guidance increases the first-pass and overall success rates and reduces the risk of complications of central venous catheterization through the subclavian and femoral routes, as well as arterial and difficult peripheral venous access. Ultrasound is also useful to detect catheter malposition and complications. Technical improvements and new modifications of old ultrasound-guided techniques may result in better outcomes.


Growing evidence suggests that routine utilization of ultrasound guidance is beneficial for all types of vascular access. The presence of a skilled operator and proper technique are, however, required to achieve success and avoid complications.

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