The brachial artery: a critical access for endovascular procedures

J Vasc Surg. 2009 Feb;49(2):378-85; discussion 385. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2008.09.017. Epub 2008 Nov 22.


Objective: The brachial artery is often used for coronary angiography. However, data on brachial access for aortic and peripheral interventions are limited. This study evaluated our experience with brachial artery catheterization for diagnostic arteriography and endovascular interventions.

Methods: Between August 2004 and August 2005, 2026 endovascular procedures were performed. Of these, 323 cases (16%) in 289 patients required brachial artery access, forming the basis for this study. Patients who underwent multiple interventions, but with a single access (ie, thrombolysis), were considered a single case. Demographic and clinical data were recorded in a database and analyzed using logistic regression analyses with generalized estimating equations and the Fisher exact test for nominal variables.

Results: The mean age of all patients was 66.4 years, with 57% men. Brachial access was used for diagnostic purposes in 27% and for interventions including angioplasty, stenting, and thrombolysis in 73%. The use of brachial access was considered obligatory in 40%, adjunctive in 19% (ie, endovascular repair of abdominal aortic and thoracic aortic aneurysms) and preferential to femoral access in 41%. In 91% of patients, the brachial arteries were accessed percutaneously, and 9% underwent surgical cutdown for access. In patients whose brachial artery was approached percutaneously, access was achieved in all but one (99.6% technical success rate). Hemostasis after catheterization was achieved by manual compression in 89%. Operative mortality rate was 6.2% and not related to brachial artery access. Brachial access site-related complications occurred in 21 patients (6.5%). Thirteen of these 21 patients (62%) required a surgical correction, mostly for brachial artery thrombosis or pseudoaneurysm. Patients with complications were more commonly women (odds ratio [OR], 4.7; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.68-13.26; P = .003) and had a long interventional sheath (OR, 6.7; 95% CI, 1.53-29.07; P = .012). The risk of a brachial artery complication was not associated with thrombolysis, procedure type, vascular territory treated, or the use of heparin. No upper extremity limb or finger loss occurred.

Conclusions: Brachial artery access is necessary for complex endovascular procedures and can be achieved in most patients safely. Postprocedural vigilance is warranted because most patients with complications will require operative correction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aneurysm, False / etiology
  • Aneurysm, False / surgery
  • Angiography* / adverse effects
  • Angiography* / instrumentation
  • Angioplasty, Balloon* / adverse effects
  • Angioplasty, Balloon* / instrumentation
  • Brachial Artery*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / adverse effects
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / instrumentation
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / methods*
  • Databases as Topic
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Hematoma / etiology
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Hemorrhage / prevention & control
  • Hemostatic Techniques
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stents
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Thrombolytic Therapy* / instrumentation
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Thrombosis / surgery
  • Vascular Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Vascular Diseases / mortality
  • Vascular Diseases / surgery
  • Vascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / instrumentation
  • Young Adult