Iatrogenic brachial and femoral artery complications following venipuncture in children

Heart Surg Forum. 2006;9(4):E675-80. doi: 10.1532/HSF98.2005-1036.


Introduction: Catheter- or noncatheter-related peripheral arterial complications such as arterial pseudoaneurysm, embolus, or arteriovenous fistula may be seen in the pediatric age group. The most common etiologies defined for arterial complications are peripheral arterial puncture performed for a routine arterial blood gas analysis, arterial catheters placed for invasive monitorization of children, or catheterization performed for diagnostic purposes through the peripheral arterial system, most commonly the femoral artery.

Materials and methods: Nine children with peripheral arterial complications, whose ages varied between 2 months and 2.5 years, were enrolled in this study. All patients were treated surgically. Following physical examination, Doppler ultrasonography, computed tomography angiography, magnetic resonance angiography, or digital subtraction angiography were used as diagnostic tools. We studied thrombophilic panels preoperatively. Six patients had brachial artery pseudoaneurysms that developed accidentally during venipuncture, I had a brachial arteriovenous fistula that developed after an accidental brachial artery puncture during routine peripheral blood analysis. In the remaining 2 patients, peripheral arterial embolic events were detected. One had a left brachial arterial embolus and the other had a sudden onset right femoral artery embolus that was detected via diagnostic interventions.

Results: No morbidity such as amputation, extremity loss, or mortality occurred due to the arterial events or surgery. All patients were discharged from the hospital in good clinical condition. In all patients, follow-up at 3 or 6 months revealed palpable peripheral artery pulsations of the ulnar and radial arteries at wrist level.

Conclusion: Because the incidence of peripheral arterial complications is relatively low in children compared to adults, the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches are extrapolated from the adult guidelines. We proposed that early diagnosis and surgical approach prevented the complications from further developing in the affected extremity in these particular cases.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aneurysm, False / diagnosis*
  • Aneurysm, False / etiology*
  • Brachial Artery / injuries*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Femoral Artery / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease
  • Infant
  • Phlebotomy / adverse effects*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / diagnosis*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / etiology*