Safety and effectiveness of placement of pacemaker and defibrillator leads in the axillary vein guided by contrast venography

Brian C.M. Ramza, Lawrence Rosenthal, Richard Hui, Emmanuel Nsah, Scott Savader, John H. Lawrence, Gordon Tomaselli, Ronald Berger, Jeffrey Brinker, Hugh Calkins

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78 Scopus citations


Despite evidence of an increased incidence of lead fracture, the infraclavicular subclavian approach remains the dominant approach for placement of pacemaker and implantable defibrillator leads. Although this complication can be prevented by lead placement in the cephalic vein or by recently described approaches for lead placement in the axillary vein, these approaches have not gained widespread acceptance. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safely and efficacy of an alternative technique for lead placement that uses contrast-guided venipuncture of the axillary vein with a 5Fr micropuncture introducer set. A total of 50 patients underwent an attempt at placement of pacemaker or implantable defibrillator leads via the axillary vein using this new technique. Patients were randomized into 2 groups based on whether the initial attempt at axillary vein access was performed medina or lateral to the rib cage margin. Lead placement was successfully accomplished in 49 of the 50 patients using this technique. Initial success was achieved in each of 25 patients randomized to the medial approach compared with 18 of 24 patients randomized to the lateral approach to the axillary vein (75%). In each of the 6 patients in whom the initial technique failed, lead placement was subsequently achieved with the medial approach. In addition to a higher initial success rate, the medial approach was determined to be preferable as evidenced by a shorter lead placement time, a smaller number of contrast injections, and a reduced requirement for additional micropuncture guidewires. There were no major complications associated with either approach. Contrast-guided vetopuncture of the axillary vein is a safe and effective approach to placement of endocardial leads.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)892-896
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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