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Placement of subclavian venous catheters

Alan C Heffner, MD
Mark P Androes, MD
Section Editors
David L Cull, MD
Allan B Wolfson, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Collins, MD, PhD, FACS


Central catheters provide dependable intravenous access and enable hemodynamic monitoring and blood sampling [1-3]. The subclavian veins are a common site for temporary central venous access, including tunneled catheters and subcutaneous ports for chemotherapy, prolonged antibiotic therapy, and parenteral nutrition.

Subclavian venous cannulation and catheter placement will be reviewed here. General considerations, complications of venous access, and issues related to other access sites are discussed elsewhere. (See "Overview of central venous access" and "Complications of central venous catheters and their prevention" and "Placement of jugular venous catheters" and "Placement of femoral venous catheters".)


The subclavian veins are reliable access points for temporary and permanent (eg, tunneled central catheters and subcutaneous ports) venous cannulation to support hemodynamic monitoring, fluid and medication administration, and parenteral nutrition (table 1). The left subclavian access is particularly well suited for cardiac access, including placement of pulmonary artery catheters, temporary transvenous pacer leads, and implantable pacers and defibrillators.

Subclavian venous access may be preferred for subcutaneous port placement due to the short distance between the subclavian vein and chest wall, making the catheter less prone to kinking.

Contraindications — Relative contraindications to subclavian venous catheterization include coagulopathy and altered local anatomy [4-8]. (See "Overview of central venous access", section on 'Relative contraindications'.)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 26, 2017.
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