Introduction: In the two cases described here, the subclavian artery was inadvertently cannulated during unsuccessful access to the internal jugular vein. The puncture was successfully closed using a closure device based on a collagen plug (Angio-Seal, St Jude Medical, St Paul, MN, USA). This technique is relatively simple and inexpensive. It can provide clinicians, such as intensive care physicians and anesthesiologists, with a safe and straightforward alternative to major surgery and can be a life-saving procedure.
Case presentation: In the first case, an anesthetist attempted ultrasound-guided access to the right internal jugular vein during the preoperative preparation of a 66-year-old Caucasian man. A 7-French (Fr) triple-lumen catheter was inadvertently placed into his arterial system. In the second case, an emergency physician inadvertently placed a 7-Fr catheter into the subclavian artery of a 77-year-old Caucasian woman whilst attempting access to her right internal jugular vein. Both arterial punctures were successfully closed by means of a percutaneous closure device (Angio-Seal). No complications were observed.
Conclusions: Inadvertent subclavian arterial puncture can be successfully managed with no adverse clinical sequelae by using a percutaneous vascular closure device. This minimally invasive technique may be an option for patients with non-compressible arterial punctures. This report demonstrates two practical points that may help clinicians in decision-making during daily practice. First, it provides a practical solution to a well-known vascular complication. Second, it emphasizes a role for proper vascular ultrasound training for the non-radiologist.