Ultrasound guidance improves the success rate of internal jugular vein cannulation. A prospective, randomized trial

Chest. 1990 Jul;98(1):157-60. doi: 10.1378/chest.98.1.157.


Study objective: To compare conventional versus ultrasound-guided internal jugular vein cannulation techniques.

Design: Patients were randomly assigned to receive either conventional or two-dimensional ultrasound-guided internal jugular vein cannulation. Patients who could not be cannulated with five or fewer passes by either technique, were crossed over to the other technique.

Setting: Clinical research unit in a tertiary care center.

Patients: All consecutive patients who required urgent or urgent-elective internal jugular vein cannulation during the study period.

Interventions: The two-dimensional ultrasound transducer imaged all cannulation attempts. For patients randomized to ultrasound guidance, the operator viewed two-dimensional ultrasound images, and received verbal guidance from the ultrasound technician. For patients randomized to the conventional arm, two-dimensional ultrasound images were recorded without visual or verbal feedback.

Measurements and main results: Two-dimensional ultrasound was significantly better than conventional guidance in reducing the number of failed site cannulations from 6/17 (35 percent), to 0/12 (0 percent), p less than 0.05. Two-dimensional ultrasound also reduced the mean number of passes required to cannulate the vein from 3.12 to 1.75 (p less than .05), and was also successful in six/six (100) of patients who failed cannulation by conventional means (p less than 0.05).

Conclusions: Intensivists can increase successful internal jugular vein cannulation using ultrasound guidance. Two-dimensional ultrasound should be considered for patients difficult to cannulate or those at high risk of cannulation complications.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Central Venous / methods*
  • Humans
  • Jugular Veins / anatomy & histology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Ultrasonography / methods*