Axillary vein technique for pacemaker and implantable defibrillator leads implantation: a safe and alternative approach?
Journal of cardiovascular medicine (Hagerstown, Md.) | 25 Sep 2014
F Migliore, A Curnis and E Bertaglia
Different methods for venous access are used for permanent pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), of which subclavian vein puncture technique is the most widely practised. Although this approach is relatively easy to learn, quick and offers high success rates, it may be associated with potential serious acute complications including pneumothorax, emopneumothorax, brachial plexus injury and longer-term complications such as lead fracture, loss of lead insulation and subclavian crush syndrome especially in young patients with ICD leads. Axillary vein approach seems to be a favourable technique not only for the prevention of acute complications but also to reduce lead failure including lead insulation and lead fracture prevention with a consequently better long-term lead survival compared with the classical subclavian approach. Although randomized studies are lacking, recent reports not only evaluated the safety and effectiveness of new fluoroscopic axillary venous puncture technique, but also compared it with the conventional intrathoracic subclavian venous puncture technique for the implantation of leads in permanent pacing. Various techniques of axillary vein puncture have been proposed ranging from a blind percutaneous puncture to the use of different tools such as contrast venography and ultrasound. In this article, we report a case of subclavian crush syndrome, the use of a modified Bellot’s technique of axillary vein puncture that we currently use and the potential benefits of axillary vein puncture for pacemaker and ICD leads implantation compared with subclavian approach to avoid acute and long-term lead complications.
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