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Brachial Plexus Neuropathy Following Attempt at Subclavian Vein Catheterization
  1. Terrence L. Trentman, M.D.*,
  2. Jeffrey D. Rome, M.D. and
  3. Joseph M. Messick Jr., M.D.*
  1. *Departments of Anesthesiology and
  2. Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota
  1. Reprint requests: Joseph M. Messick, Jr., M.D., Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905.


Background and Objectives The subclavian vein is often used for placement of central venous catheters, and the possibility exists of nerve injury as a complication of the procedure.

Methods A 58-year-old woman undergoing subclavian central catheter placement sustained a brachial plexus injury. A review of the English-language literature revealed no reports of brachial plexus injury during placement of a subclavian central catheter, although three reports were found in the non-English-language literature.

Results The anatomic relationship of the subclavian artery, vein, and brachial plexus at the supraclavicular triangle is described, and suggestions are given as to how to avoid this problem.

Conclusions Brachial plexus injury can occur with placement of subclavian central catheters, but proper technique should minimize this complication.

  • brachial plexus injury
  • subclavian vein cannulation

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