Purpose: to retrospectively evaluate brachial artery puncture at the antecubital fossa with regard to the indications for and complications arising from the procedure.
Patients and methods: Sixty-two cumulative brachial artery punctures in fifty-three patients over a 5-year-period were retrospectively studies.
Results: In the majority of cases the brachial approach was utilised in order to avoid groin puncture in patients with absent femoral pulses or recent graft surgery. Occasionally it was performed as a more direct method of assessing upper limb arterial anatomy. Catheter sizes ranged from 3F to 8F. Fifty-one (82%) of the procedures were diagnostic and 11 (18%) were interventional. Glyceryl trinitrate was routinely administered. The overall incidence of complications was low (8%) and included haematoma and arterial spasm. None required surgical intervention and all resolved without permanent sequelae.
Conclusion: Brachial artery puncture at the antecubital fossa is a suitable site of access for both diagnostic and interventional procedures. Potential limitations are the long distance from puncture site to that of intervention and damage to the brachial artery can result in upper limb ischaemia. Percutaneous brachial artery puncture at the antecubital fossa is, however, a low-risk alternative to either intravenous digital subtraction angiography or axillary artery puncture in patients in whom the femoral approach is contraindicated.