Local complications associated with indwelling Swan-Ganz catheters: autopsy study of 36 cases

Am J Cardiol. 1983 Nov 1;52(8):1108-11. doi: 10.1016/0002-9149(83)90542-8.


Thirty-six hearts of patients who died with indwelling Swan-Ganz catheters in place were prospectively examined to assess the incidence and extent of localized lesions in the right side of the heart. Bland mural thrombosis in the superior vena cava, the right atrium and the pulmonary artery was found in 22 of 36 cases (61%). Patients with catheter periods greater than 2 days had a greater incidence and extent of bland mural thrombosis (79%) than patients with short-term catheterization (41%, p less than 0.01). Anticoagulation had no influence on bland mural thrombosis. Valvular hemorrhage occurred in 31% and aseptic valvular vegetations in 8% of the hearts. No case of infective endocarditis was found. Four of 36 cases (11%) had evidence of pulmonary infarction that appeared to be unrelated to the lesions in the right side of the heart. Endocardial lesions were common complications of indwelling Swan-Ganz catheters but had no significant impact on the clinical courses of the patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Autopsy
  • Cardiac Catheterization / adverse effects
  • Cardiac Catheterization / instrumentation*
  • Coronary Disease / pathology
  • Endocardium / pathology
  • Female
  • Heart Injuries / pathology*
  • Heart Valve Diseases / pathology
  • Hemorrhage / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / pathology
  • Thrombosis / pathology
  • Vena Cava, Superior / pathology