Pulmonary artery false aneurysms secondary to Swan-Ganz pulmonary artery catheters

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1987 Nov;149(5):901-6. doi: 10.2214/ajr.149.5.901.


Several complications from the use of balloon-tipped flow-directed (Swan-Ganz) pulmonary artery catheters are recognized. One infrequent but life-threatening complication is false aneurysm formation associated with rupture or dissection of the pulmonary artery. We report 10 cases of catheter-induced pulmonary artery false aneurysms identified during a 9-year period. Initial presentation was radiologic in six patients and clinical (hemoptysis) in four. Later chest radiographic findings consisted of a well-defined, persistent pulmonary nodule or mass (three patients) or focal, dense parenchymal consolidation (six patients) that either persisted (two patients) or evolved into a nodule or mass (four patients) adjacent to the catheter tip. Cavitation of a pulmonary mass developed in one case. Two of eight deaths were caused by pulmonary artery false aneurysm formation and rupture with subsequent fatal hemorrhage. In one patient who survived, the false aneurysm was shown by pulmonary angiography and embolized with coils and Gelfoam. We conclude that pulmonary artery false aneurysms are life-threatening complications of pulmonary artery catheters and have characteristic chest radiographic findings.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Aneurysm / etiology*
  • Aneurysm / therapy
  • Catheterization, Swan-Ganz / adverse effects*
  • Catheterization, Swan-Ganz / mortality
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Artery / injuries*
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies