Brachial Arterial Pressure Monitoring during Cardiac Surgery Rarely Causes Complications

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Brachial arterial catheters better estimate aortic pressure than radial arterial catheters but are used infrequently because complications in a major artery without collateral flow are potentially serious. However, the extent to which brachial artery cannulation promotes complications remains unknown. The authors thus evaluated a large cohort of cardiac surgical patients to estimate the incidence of related serious complications.


The institutional Society of Thoracic Surgeons Adult Cardiac Surgery Database and Perioperative Health Documentation System Registry of the Cleveland Clinic were used to identify patients who had brachial artery cannulation between 2007 and 2015. Complications within 6 months after surgery were identified by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision diagnostic and procedural codes, Current Procedural Terminology procedure codes, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons variables. The authors reviewed electronic medical records to confirm that putative complications were related plausibly to brachial arterial catheterization. Complications were categorized as (1) vascular, (2) peripheral nerve injury, or (3) infection. The authors evaluated associations between brachial arterial complications and patient comorbidities and between complications and in-hospital mortality and duration of hospitalization.


Among 21,597 qualifying patients, 777 had vascular or nerve injuries or local infections, but only 41 (incidence 0.19% [95% CI, 0.14 to 0.26%]) were potentially consequent to brachial arterial cannulation. Vascular complications occurred in 33 patients (0.15% [0.10 to 0.23%]). Definitely or possibly related infection occurred in 8 (0.04% [0.02 to 0.08%]) patients. There were no plausibly related neurologic complications. Peripheral arterial disease was associated with increased risk of complications. Brachial catheter complications were associated with prolonged hospitalization and in-hospital mortality.


Brachial artery cannulation for hemodynamic monitoring during cardiac surgery rarely causes complications.

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