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Concept: Subclavian artery


BACKGROUND: Takayasu arteritis is a large vessel vasculitis occurring in young females. We report a rare presentation of Takayasu arteritis in a Sri Lankan woman. She presented with bronchiectasis and left recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy prior to the onset of vascular symptoms. This case illustrates an atypical presentation of this disease and the diagnostic dilemma that the physician may be faced with. CASE PRESENTATION: A 39-year-old woman presented with chronic cough, haemoptysis and hoarseness of voice. She had left recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy and high inflammatory markers on investigation. CT thorax revealed aortic wall thickening and traction bronchiectasis. 2 D echocardiogram revealed grade 1 aortic regurgitation compatible with aortitis. She did not have weak peripheral pulses or a blood pressure discrepancy and did not meet American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria for diagnosis of Takayasu arteritis at this stage. Tuberculosis, syphilis and sarcoidosis was excluded. While awaiting angiography, she developed left arm claudication and a pericardial effusion. Angiography revealed evidence of Takayasu arteritis and absence of flow in the left subclavian artery. Takayasu arteritis was diagnosed at this stage after a period of eight months from the onset of initial symptoms. She is currently on prednisolone, azathioprine and aspirin. CONCLUSION: Bronchiectasis and recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy is a rare presentation of Takayasu arteritis. Atypical presentations can occur in Takayasu arteritis prior to the onset of vascular symptoms. Elevation of inflammatory markers are an early finding. A high degree of suspicion is needed to identify these patients in the early course of the disease.

Concepts: Cardiology, Common carotid artery, Brachiocephalic artery, Subclavian vein, Vertebral artery, Subclavian artery


Central vein cannulation is one of the most commonly performed procedures in intensive care. Traditionally, the jugular and subclavian vein are recommended as the first choice option. Nevertheless, these attempts are not always obtainable for critically ill patients. For this reason, the axillary vein seems to be a rational alternative approach. In this narrative review, we evaluate the usefulness of the infraclavicular access to the axillary vein. The existing evidence suggests that infraclavicular approach to the axillary vein is a reliable method of central vein catheterization, especially when performed with ultrasound guidance.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Internal jugular vein, Central venous catheter, Subclavian vein, Subclavian artery, Axillary artery, Axillary vein, Veins of the torso


A 36-year old woman presented with a 5-year history of progressive dysphagia. The barium swallow of the oesophagus revealed an oblique extrinsic defect consistent with an aberrant right subclavian artery. A computed tomography angiogram confirmed the diagnosis. Surgical correction is indicated for dysphagia lusoria in association with an aberrant right subclavian artery. The patient underwent surgical repair through the right supraclavicular approach, which provided a good exposure. We describe the use of this approach, which avoids the possible complications of thoracotomy or sternotomy in the surgical management of dysphagia lusoria.

Concepts: Medical imaging, Common carotid artery, Brachiocephalic artery, Subclavian vein, Vertebral artery, Subclavian artery, Aberrant subclavian artery


OBJECTIVE: The axillary vein is an easily accessible vessel that can be used for ultrasound-guided central vascular access and offers an alternative to the internal jugular and subclavian veins. The objective of this study was to identify which transducer orientation, longitudinal or transverse, is better for imaging the axillary vein with ultrasound. METHODS: Emergency medicine physicians at an inner-city academic medical center were asked to cannulate the axillary vein in a torso phantom model. They were randomized to start with either the longitudinal or transverse approach and completed both sequentially. Participants answered questionnaires before and after the cannulation attempts. Measurements were taken regarding time to completion, success, skin punctures, needle redirections, and complications. RESULTS: Fifty-seven operators with a median experience of 85 ultrasound procedures (interquartile range, 26-120) participated. The frequency of first-attempt success was 39 (0.69) of 57 for the longitudinal method and 21 (0.37) of 57 for the transverse method (difference, 0.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.12-0.51 [P = .001]); this difference was similar regardless of operator experience. The longitudinal method was associated with fewer redirections (difference, 1.8; 95% CI, 0.8-2.7 [P = .0002]) and skin punctures (difference, 0.3; 95% CI, -2 to +0.7 [P = .07]). Arterial puncture occurred in 2 of 57 longitudinal and 7 of 57 transverse attempts; no pleural punctures occurred. For successful attempts, the time spent was 24 seconds less for the longitudinal method (95% CI, 3-45 [P = .02]). CONCLUSIONS: The longitudinal method of visualizing the axillary vein during ultrasound-guided venous access is associated with greater first-attempt success, fewer needle redirections, and a trend of fewer arterial punctures compared with the transverse orientation.

Concepts: Blood vessel, Artery, Vein, Internal jugular vein, Subclavian vein, Subclavian artery, Axillary vein


Aberrant right subclavian artery (ARSA) is an uncommon congenital anomaly that often becomes aneurysmal. The ARSAs are often asymptomatic but aneurysms arising in this location are potentially lethal. Due to the high morbidity and mortality rates associated with the traditional open repair methods, less invasive endovascular methods are becoming more popular. This is a case describing a unique hybrid repair of an aneurysmal ARSA in an asymptomatic male.

Concepts: Common carotid artery, Brachiocephalic artery, Subclavian vein, Vertebral artery, Subclavian artery, Aberrant subclavian artery


Perforation of the piriform fossa is a rare, potentially life-threatening paediatric emergency. Prompt diagnosis and early operative intervention is key to patient survival, yet restoring aerodigestive continuity can pose a significant reconstructive challenge. A seven-month old baby girl presented to an emergency department acutely unwell with a twenty-four-hour history of haemoptysis, cough and worsening respiratory distress. A contrast swallow demonstrated extension of contrast into the retropharyngeal region necessitating immediate surgical intervention. A 3.0 cm × 1.0 cm perforation within the left posterolateral piriform fossa was identified. The defect was repaired with a supraclavicular transverse cervical artery customised perforator flap. This was inset into the piriform fossa luminal defect as a life-saving procedure. Following a stormy post-operative course, the child was discharged home on day 28 of admission and admitted electively 6 weeks later for division of flap pedicle. This case highlights the novel use of this fasciocutaneous island flap to reconstruct an extensive, potentially fatal, piriform fossa defect in an acute paediatric setting. This simple flap design offers timely mobilisation, reliable blood supply, adequate tenuity and surface area, to reconstruct this extensive defect as a life-saving intervention in a profoundly septic child.

Concepts: Blood, Subclavian artery, Transverse cervical artery, Superficial branch of transverse cervical artery


OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study is to determine the frequency of aberrant right subclavian artery (ARSA) in trisomic and normal fetuses during the routine detailed ultrasonography in the second trimester and to evaluate the potential value of ARSA as an ultrasonographic marker for trisomy 21. METHODS: The presence of normal brachicephalic trunk/or ARSA was confirmed in all pregnant women undergoing second trimester detailed fetal anomaly screening beyond 16th week of pregnancy. Amniocentesis following genetic councelling was recommended to all women having either any positive ultrasonographic marker including ARSA or a positive biochemical screening test (triple test) result. RESULTS: During the 17-month period, 2081 patients were screened, and 23 patients with ARSA (1,1%) and 20 patients with trisomy 21 were detected. Of those 20 patients with trisomy 21, ARSA was detected in seven (%35). On the other hand, 30.4% of the fetuses with ARSA had also trisomy 21. The positive and negative likelihood ratios of ARSA for trisomy 21 were 45.08 and 0.65, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: In our study, the ARSA in combination with other ultrasound signs increased the risk for trisomy 21 by factor of 45, but the independent ability of ARSA as an isolated marker to predict fetal Trisomy 21 is unclear. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Embryo, Obstetrics, Common carotid artery, Medical ultrasonography, Brachiocephalic artery, Subclavian artery, Aberrant subclavian artery


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.

Concepts: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, Magnetic resonance imaging, Subclavian vein, Artificial pacemaker, Brachial plexus, Subclavian artery, Axillary artery, Axillary vein


The vertebral artery (VA) bilaterally arises usually from the subclavian artery and courses within the bony canals of cervical vertebrae, and then it reverses directions on the first vertebra before piercing the dura to enter the cranium.The aim was to follow (ab)normal developmental changes of extracranial VA from prenatal status to age 21. This chapter included a brief description of the arterial embryology and morphofunctional specificity of the VA in prevertebral, cervical, and atlantic parts, during prenatal and postnatal period.The authors concluded that the subclavian origin of the VA was in most of fetal and adult cases. The incidences of variable VA origins and domination of one of the VAs were different from one series of human specimens to the second one. Although in most of cases, anomalous origin and/or variable course of the extracranial VA had little or did not result in clinical symptoms in infants and young adults, the true value of their discovery is in the diagnostic gain before vascular surgery of supra-aortic arteries.

Concepts: Vertebral column, Cervical vertebrae, Vertebral artery, Subclavian artery


Both hybrid and chimney techniques are used for reconstruction of supra-arch branches during thoracic endovascular aorta repair (TEVAR). Our objective was to summarize our experience with reconstruction of the left common carotid artery (LCCA) or left subclavian artery (LSA) and evaluate the indications for these 2 strategies.

Concepts: Common carotid artery, Internal jugular vein, Brachiocephalic artery, Arteries of the thorax, Subclavian vein, Arteries of the head and neck, Subclavian artery, Aortic arch