Variable anatomical relationship of phrenic nerve and subclavian vein: Clinical implication for subclavian vein catheterization

George K. Paraskevas, A. Raikos, K. Chouliaras, B. Papaziogas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background. During subclavian vein catheterization, a potential, but rare, hazard is the phrenic nerve injury, which compromises respiratory function. We conducted a cadaver study focused on the possible anatomical relationships between the subclavian vein and the phrenic nerve. Methods. Forty-two adult cadavers (84 heminecks) were dissected. Special attention was given to the topography of the phrenic nerve and subclavian vein. Results. In all but three cases (81 of 84), normal topography was present, that is, the nerve was posterior to the vein. In two cases, the phrenic nerve crossed anterior to the subclavian vein and in one case traversed the anterior wall of the subclavian vein. Conclusions. Variants of the relationship of the subclavian vein and the phrenic nerve should be familiar to anaesthesiologists during subclavian vein cannulation in order to achieve successful vein approach without causing phrenic nerve palsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-351
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


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