Real-time ultrasonographically-guided internal jugular vein catheterization in the emergency department increases success rates and reduces complications: a randomized, prospective study

Ann Emerg Med. 2006 Nov;48(5):540-7. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2006.01.011. Epub 2006 Feb 21.


Study objective: We compare real-time ultrasonographic guidance and the traditional landmark technique for the insertion of internal jugular vein catheters in an emergency department (ED) setting.

Methods: This was a prospective, randomized, clinical study performed in a tertiary ED between August 2003 and May 2005 on patients requiring central venous access. Ultrasonographically guided catheters were inserted under real time using the Sonosite ultrasonographic system with a 10 to 5 MHz 38-mm linear array transducer. Standardized data were collected on operator experience, method of insertion, reason for central venous access, and comorbidities. Outcome measures included successful insertion of an internal jugular vein catheter, number of attempts, access times, and complications.

Results: One hundred thirty patients were enrolled. Cannulation of the internal jugular vein was successful in 61 of 65 patients (93.9%) using ultrasonography and in 51 of 65 patients (78.5%) using the landmark technique, a significant difference of 15.4% (P=.009, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.8% to 27.0%). Fifty of 61 (82.0%) of the successful ultrasonographically guided catheters were inserted on the first attempt compared with 36 of 51 (70.6%) of the successful landmark catheters. Mean access times to venipuncture and successful insertion were 138 and 281 seconds by ultrasonographic guidance and 132 and 271 seconds by the landmark technique. There was a 10.8% complication rate, with 11 complications (16.9%) in the landmark group and 3 (4.6%) in the ultrasonographic group, a difference of 12.3% (95% CI 1.9% to 22.8%).

Conclusion: Ultrasonographically guided internal jugular vein catheterization in the ED setting was associated with a higher successful insertion rate and a lower complications rate.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / methods*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jugular Veins
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*