Pressure-guided positioning of bicaval dual-lumen catheters for venovenous extracorporeal gas exchange

Thomas Langer, Vittoria Vecchi, Slava M. Belenkiy, Leopoldo C. Cancio, Luciano Gattinoni, Andriy I. Batchinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Bicaval dual-lumen catheters allow for single-site cannulation venovenous extracorporeal gas exchange and facilitate early mobilization of patients. Using these catheters blood is drained from the superior and inferior venae cavae, pumped through a respiratory membrane, and returned into the right atrium. The insertion of these catheters is challenging as their correct positioning is fundamental to reduce recirculation and avoid severe complications. We describe here a new technique for the positioning of bicaval dual-lumen catheters. Materials and methods: The right internal jugular vein was percutaneously cannulated in nine sheep. The distance between skin and tricuspid valve was measured from the point of pressure change in the waveform of a Swan-Ganz catheter being retracted from the right ventricle into the right atrium. The atrium-tricuspid valve-ventricle axis was determined by observing the fluctuations of the tip of the Swan-Ganz entering the ventricle during fluoroscopy. A bicaval dual-lumen catheter was placed on the basis of these evaluations and connected to an extracorporeal respiratory support system. Results: The position of the catheter was verified at necropsy approximately 18 h after insertion. In all cases the catheter was correctly placed, with the central port situated in front of the tricuspid valve. Conclusions: The described technique may help to position bicaval dual-lumen catheters for venovenous extracorporeal gas exchange without the use of transesophageal echocardiography or contrast media during fluoroscopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-154
Number of pages4
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Catheterization
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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