Retrieval of an IV catheter fragment from the pulmonary artery 11 years after embolization

Chest. 2000 Apr;117(4):1209-11. doi: 10.1378/chest.117.4.1209.


The use of a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is occasionally complicated by intravascular fracture and central embolization of the catheter fragment. We present a patient in whom a PICC fragment was retrieved from the pulmonary artery 11 years after embolization following its incidental detection. Despite a history of IV drug abuse and mitral regurgitation, this patient remained asymptomatic and without complications. The catheter fragment was retrieved since the patient was believed to be at risk for endocarditis. This may be the longest duration reported of an embolized catheter fragment that was successfully removed. As the natural history of asymptomatic-retained central venous foreign bodies remains unclear, the decision to remove them should be individualized. In selected cases, these foreign bodies may be retrieved without complications even several years after embolization.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Angiography
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Failure
  • Female
  • Foreign Bodies / diagnostic imaging
  • Foreign Bodies / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Artery*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Embolism / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / surgery
  • Time Factors
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / methods