Background: The technique of percutaneous catheterization of the subclavian
vein by the infraclavicular approach is dependent on the location of the s
ubclavian vein in relation to the clavicle, The purpose of this study was t
o analyze the anatomic relationship between these two structures and how it
is influenced by changes in shoulder positioning.
Methods: Dissections of the infraclavicular region were performed in seven
fresh cadavers and linear measurements made to determine the extent of over
lap between the vein and the clavicle in different shoulder positions.
Results: When the shoulder was in neutral position, the subclavian vein was
overlapped by the medial third or more of the clavicle and this segment of
bone was able to serve as a land-mark For the vein, However, shoulder elev
ation displaced the clavicle cephalad and reduced the degree of overlap, Mi
ld shoulder retraction increased the area of contact between the vein and t
he undersurface of the clavicle, whereas protraction lifted the clavicle of
f the vein.
Conclusion: Infraclavicular subclavian venipuncture should be performed wit
h shoulders in a neutral position and also in slight retraction. An appreci
ation of the anatomic relationship between the clavicle and the subclavian
vein is the key to successful execution of this technique.