Preventing radial arterial catheter failure in critical care - Factoring updated clinical strategies and techniques

Anaesth Crit Care Pain Med. 2022 Aug;41(4):101096. doi: 10.1016/j.accpm.2022.101096. Epub 2022 Apr 28.


Radial artery catheterization is a frequently performed procedure for critically ill patients. The correct function of arterial catheters is essential to provide accurate and continuous hemodynamic monitoring, facilitating intermittent blood sampling and helping to optimize the workload for critical care nurses and physicians. However, they are not without their own problems. This narrative practice review discusses several clinical aspects that are not frequently considered but may contribute to enhanced catheter functionality, less device-related failure and more acceptable dwell times. Ultrasound has demonstrated unequivocal efficacies and safety with the procedure, improving first attempt success rates with children, the obese or patients with unstable clinical vital signs and shock. Moreover, anatomic variations of the radial artery are not rare, and ultrasound-guided catheterization reduces the incidence of insertion-related complications such as hematoma, posterior wall puncture, intimal dissection, and radial nerve injury. Ultrasound guidance offers several immediate benefits by enhancing the most appropriate insertion techniques, allows for the correct catheter to vessel ratio measurements to be performed and reduces the angle of insertion, which may affect catheter failure due to inappropriate catheter length. A deeper and more proximal cannulation site at least 4 cm from wrist joint, avoiding the area of wrist flexion, reduces mechanical complications related to patient movements and may improve catheter functionality and dwell along with a better area for stabilization and securement.

Keywords: Intensive care unit; Outcomes; Peripheral arterial catheterization; Radial artery; Securement; Ultrasonography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Peripheral* / adverse effects
  • Catheterization, Peripheral* / methods
  • Child
  • Critical Care
  • Humans
  • Punctures
  • Radial Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods
  • Vascular Access Devices*