Rapid venous access using saphenous vein cutdown at the ankle

Am J Emerg Med. 1989 May;7(3):263-6. doi: 10.1016/0735-6757(89)90166-6.


Injured adults can usually be treated adequately with peripheral intravenous lines. However, in hypotensive patients, alternative techniques such as venous cutdown may be necessary. There are no adult studies that document the success rate or time required to complete this procedure in the emergent situation. During a 1-year period, 73 cutdowns were attempted on 56 patients. Sixty-two of these attempts resulted in venous cannulation with a free flow of fluid (84.9%). The average time required for placement was 4.9 minutes. First-year residents had a significantly lower success rate (70%) than emergency department staff (89%) or second- through fifth-year surgical residents (94%). One patient who lived developed a local cellulitis. There were no other complications. In the hands of an experienced operator, saphenous vein cutdown at the ankle is a reliable method of rapidly gaining venous access in the adult patient. There are few immediate or late complications if the catheter is removed within 24 hours.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bloodletting / methods*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / methods*
  • Emergencies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Saphenous Vein / surgery*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*