The Oblique View: An Alternative Approach for Ultrasound-Guided Central Line Placement

J Emerg Med. 2009 Nov;37(4):403-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2008.02.061. Epub 2008 Oct 1.


Background: Numerous studies have shown significant benefits of using real-time ultrasonography for central line intravenous access. Traditionally, the ultrasound probe is placed along the short axis of the vein to visualize and direct needle placement. This view has some limitations, particularly being able to visualize the needle tip. Some practitioners place the ultrasound probe in the long axis of the vessel to direct needle placement, allowing better visualization of the needle entering the vein, but this does not allow visualization of relevant anatomic structures.

Objectives: We describe an alternative means to obtain ultrasound-guided vascular access using an oblique axis rather than the traditional short-axis approach.

Discussion: This view allows better visualization of the needle shaft and tip but also offers the safety of being able to visualize all relevant anatomically significant structures at the same time and in the same plane. This orientation is halfway between the short and long axis of the vessel, allowing visualization of the needle as it enters the vessel. This capitalizes on the strengths of the long axis while optimizing short-axis visualization of important structures during intravenous line placement.

Conclusion: Ultrasound-guided vascular access can be obtained in a variety of ways. We describe a technique that is used by some experienced ultrasound users but that has never been fully described in the literature. This technique for obtaining ultrasound-guided vascular access offers another option for attempting ultrasound-guided vascular access that has the potential to improve success rates and minimize complications associated with intravenous access.

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Central Venous / methods*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Jugular Veins / diagnostic imaging*
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*