Comparison between ultrasound guided technique and digital palpation technique for radial artery cannulation in adult patients: An updated meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

J Clin Anesth. 2018 Jun;47:54-59. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinane.2018.03.019. Epub 2018 Mar 22.


Study objective: Possible advantages and risks associated with ultrasound guided radial artery cannulation in-comparison to digital palpation guided method in adult patients are not fully known. We have compared ultrasound guided radial artery cannulation with digital palpation technique in this meta-analysis.

Design: Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Setting: Trials conducted in operating room, emergency department, cardiac catheterization laboratory.

Patients: PubMed and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) were searched (from 1946 to 20th November 2017) to identify prospective randomized controlled trials in adult patients.

Intervention: Two-dimensional ultrasound guided radial artery catheterization versus digital palpation guided radial artery cannulation.

Measurements: Overall cannulation success rate, first attempt success rate, time to cannulation and mean number of attempts to successful cannulation. Odds ratio (OR) and standardized mean difference (SMD) or mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated for categorical and continuous variables respectively.

Results: Data of 1895 patients from 10 studies have been included in this meta- analysis. Overall cannulation success rate was similar between ultrasound guided technique and digital palpation [OR (95% CI) 2.01 (1.00, 4.06); p = 0.05]. Ultrasound guided radial artery cannulation is associated with higher first attempt success rate of radial artery cannulation in comparison to digital palpation [OR (95% CI) 2.76 (186, 4.10); p < 0.001]. No difference was seen in time to cannulate [SMD (95% CI) -0.31 (-0.65, 0.04); p = 0.30] and mean number of attempt [MD (95% CI) -0.65 (-1.32, 0.02); p = 0.06] between USG guided technique with palpation technique.

Conclusion: Radial artery cannulation by ultrasound guidance may increase the first attempt success rate but not the overall cannulation success when compared to digital palpation technique. However, results of this meta-analysis should be interpreted with caution due presence of heterogeneity.

Keywords: Arterial catheterization; Hemodynamic monitoring; Monitoring; Palpation; Radial artery cannulation; Ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / adverse effects
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / methods*
  • Humans
  • Palpation*
  • Radial Artery / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radial Artery / surgery
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional