(Mis)placed central venous catheter in the left superior intercostal vein

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(Mis)placed central venous catheter in the left superior intercostal vein

Background. Chest X-ray is routinely performed to check the position of the central venous catheter (CVC) inserted through the internal jugular or subclavian vein, while the further evaluation of CVC malfunction is usually performed by contrast venography. In patients with superior vena cava obstruction, the tip of the catheter is often seen in collateral mediastinal venous pathways, rather than in the superior vena cava. In such cases detailed knowledge of thoracic vessel anatomy is necessary to identify the exact location of the catheter.

Case report. We report a case of 32-year-old female patient with relapsing mediastinal lymphoma and previous superior vena cava obstruction with collateral azygos-hemiazygos venous pathways. The patient had CVC inserted through the left subclavian vein and its position was detected by CT to be in the dilated left superior intercostal vein and accessory hemiazygos vein. Considering that dilated accessory hemiazygos vein can tolerate infusion, the CVC was left in place and the patient had no complaints related to CVC (mal)position. Furthermore, we present anatomical and radiological observations on the azygos-hemiazygos venous system with the special emphasis on the left superior intercostal vein.

Conclusions. Non-contrast CT scans can be a valuable imaging tool in the detection of the CVC position, especially in patients with renal insufficiency and contrast media hypersensitivity.

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Radiology and Oncology

The Journal of Association of Radiology and Oncology

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