, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 151-154
Date: 17 Nov 2012

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

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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.


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.


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.

The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or as reflecting the views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.