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This article is part of the supplement: 23rd International Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine

Open Badges Meeting abstract

Complications of arterial lines in an intensive care unit

MG Rodrigues, DR Salgado, RAN Paiva, VM Resende, A Chindamo and JCR Verdeal

Author Affiliations

Vila Isabel, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

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Critical Care 2003, 7(Suppl 2):P116  doi:10.1186/cc2005

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:3 March 2003



Arterial cannulation is a very useful tool in the management of patients in mechanical ventilation or hemodynamic instability. However, local complications are always a concern.


To describe complications of different arterial cannulation sites, correlating them with line obstruction, local and distal ischemia, infection and thrombosis.

Materials and methods

A prospective, observational study of the arterial cannulations performed in a clinical and surgical intensive care unit from October 2001 to November 2002. Daily evaluations for catheter obstruction (dumping of waves, difficulty in draining blood) or local and distal ischemia (livedo reticularis, pale or cyanotic extremity) were carried out. Arterial Doppler scans were obtained 24 hours after catheter removal, searching for partial or total obstructive thrombosis.


Five hundred and sixty-five arterial cannulations were analyzed (Table 1).


Despite the lower utilization of the axillary artery, the number of complications favored this site for monitoring over the mostly used radial artery.