[Peripheral arterial complications after heart catheterization]

Herz. 1998 Feb;23(1):4-20. doi: 10.1007/BF03043007.
[Article in German]


After diagnostic and interventional cardiac catheterization, local vascular complications at the arterial entry site must be expected. With respect to the method applied for catheterization and the puncture site, the type of complications may vary. With transfemoral approach a large variety of vascular complications have to be feared, mostly in the form of bleeding complications and hematomas, arterial dissections or occlusions, pseudoaneurysms and AV-fistulas. Each of these complications may have the potential for serious morbidity. When cardiac catheterization is performed via the arteries of the arm (either in the classical Sones technique by arterial cutdown to the brachial artery or by direct puncture of the brachial or radial artery) vascular occlusions will mostly occur as local vascular complications. These occlusions can often be managed conservatively or by a surgical procedure. The incidence of a vascular complication is mainly dependent on patient-related (sex, age, height, weight, arterial hypertension, diabetes, presence of peripheral vascular disease and compliance of the patient after withdrawal of the sheath) and procedure-related (arterial access site, diagnostic or interventional study, sheath size, periprocedural anticoagulation, duration of intra-arterial sheath placement, faulty puncture technique, operator skill) factors. In addition, the definition of a complication, the publication year of a certain study and the technique used for identification of complications seem to play a role for the reported incidence of peripheral vascular complications after cardiac catheterization. Currently, incidences of 0.1 to 2% for significant local vascular complications after diagnostic transfemoral catheterization are reported, after interventional transfemoral treatment 0.5 to 5% and after complex procedures using large sheath sizes with periprocedural anticoagulation (directional atherectomy, IABP, left-heart assist, valvuloplasty) up to 14%. Following transbrachial and transradial catheterization, local vascular complications at the entry site amount to 1 to 3% after diagnostic and 1 to 5% after interventional procedures. Local vascular complications may be diminished by a cautious and sensitive puncture technique with additional care in patients at higher risk for vascular complications (females, prediagnosed peripheral vascular disease, mandatory anticoagulation, necessity for large sheaths). By using smaller sized catheters and an adequate, defensive anticoagulation regimen, the rate of arterial access site complications may be reduced. Proper methods for achievement of hemostasis as well as a close and careful observation after sheath withdrawal are required.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary*
  • Cardiac Catheterization / adverse effects*
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / surgery
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Postoperative Complications