Ultrasound confirmation of central venous catheter position via a right supraclavicular fossa view using a microconvex probe: An observational pilot study

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Visualisation of a central venous catheter (CVC) with ultrasound is restricted to the internal jugular vein (IJV). CVC tip position is confirmed by chest radiography, intracardiac ECG or transoesophageal/transthoracic echocardiography (TEE/TTE).


We explored the feasibility, safety and accuracy of a right supraclavicular view for visualisation of the lower superior vena cava (SVC) and the right pulmonary artery (RPA) as an ultrasound landmark for real-time ultrasound-guided CVC tip positioning via the right IJV. Ultrasound was then compared with chest radiography.


An observational pilot study.


Bonn, University Hospital, Germany. From July to October 2012.


Fifty-one patients scheduled for elective surgery. Reasons for exclusion were emergency procedure, thrombosis or small IJV lumen and mechanical obstacle to guidewire advancement.


In 48 patients, CVC insertion via the right IJV and progress of the guidewire into the lower SVC were continuously guided by an ultrasound transducer in the right supraclavicular fossa.


CVC tip position in lower SVC and tip-to-carina distance were assessed with chest radiography as a reference method and additionally with TEE in cardiothoracic patients. Insertion depth was compared with intracardiac ECG and body-height formula.


The guidewire tip was seen in the SVC of all patients. In four patients, the tip was not visible in proximity of the RPA. Chest radiography and TEE confirmed CVC tip position in the lower SVC (zone A). Bland–Altman analysis revealed an average of difference of 1.6 cm for ultrasound versus ECG (95% limit of agreement –2 to 5 cm) and an average of difference of 1 cm for ultrasound versus body-height formula (95% limit of agreement –2 to 4 cm).


Ultrasound via a right supraclavicular view is a feasible, well tolerated and accurate approach and should be further explored. Chest radiography confirmed CVC position in the lower SVC.

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