Skip to main content
  • Poster presentation
  • Published:

Use of ultrasound for central venous catheter placement


The placement of a central venous catheter is a common practice in the ICU and the incidence of mechanical complications occurs is 5–19% of patients. In this study we compare the ultrasound approach with classic landmark technique in terms of reduction of mechanical complications and the number of attempts needed for the cannulation of the internal jugular vein.


We examined 31 patients admitted to the ICU: in 20 of them the cannulation of the internal jugular vein was obtained using real-time ultrasound guidance, while in 11 patients we employed the landmark technique (axial approach). We recorded the number of complications and the number of attempts, correlating with the experience of the operator. All data were statistically examined with Student's t test (number of attempts) and Fisher's test for count of odds ratio (incidence of complications).


We reported 9% of complications in the landmark group (one accidental arterial puncture) and 6% in the ultrasound group (one pneumothorax). The odds ratio for these data is 0.5 (95% CI = 0.006–45.4). We found a statistically significant difference in the number of attempts performed, with a lower value in the ultrasound group (mean ± SD, ultrasound 1.1 ± 0.30 vs landmark technique 1.7 ± 0.78; P = 0.034). No difference in the number of attempts was evidenced by the experience of the operator using the ultrasound approach. See Figure 1.

figure 1

Figure 1


Our data confirm that use of ultrasound for central venous catheter placement is safer and is associated with a lower risk of complications than the classical approach, especially for low-experience operators.


  1. McGee D, Gould M: Preventing complication of central venous catheterization. N Engl J Med 2003, 348: 1123-1133. 10.1056/NEJMra011883

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Maecken T: Ultrasound imaging in vascular access. Crit Care Med 2007, 35: S178-S185. 10.1097/01.CCM.0000260629.86351.A5

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Karakitsos D, et al.: Real-time ultrasound-guided catheterisation of the vein: a prospective comparison with the landmark technique in critical care patients. Crit Care 2006, 10: R162. 10.1186/cc5101

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Angelini, T., Bevilacqua, L., Forfori, F. et al. Use of ultrasound for central venous catheter placement. Crit Care 12 (Suppl 2), P80 (2008).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: