Selective non-operative management of pseudoaneursyms and arteriovenous fistulae complicating femoral artery catheterization

B. T. Allen, J. S. Munn, S. L. Stevens, G. A. Sicard, C. B. Anderson, M. L. Droste, P. A. Ludbrook

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49 Scopus citations


Femoral arterial pseudoaneurysms or arteriovenous fistulae may sometimes complicate percutaneous femoral artery carheterization procedures. Most surgeons recommend prompt operative repair because of the unfavorable natural history of pseudoaneurysms or arteriovenous fistulae secondary to violent or accidental arterial trauma. However, the natural history of catheterization-induced pseudoaneurysms and arteriovenous fistulae has not been well documented. Accordingly, we prospectively studied the natural history of 22 pseudoaneurysms, 8 arteriovenous fistulae, and 3 combined lesions, identified by duplex scan in 32 patients following trans-femoral cardiac, peripheral vascular, or vascular access arterial catheterization procedures. Angiographic procedures were performed with the use of 5-8F introducer sheaths. A femoral artery complication was significantly more likely to result from coronary balloon angioplasty (9/304; 3.0%) than from diagnostic cardiac catheterization (21/2476; 0.8%) (p < 0.003; chi square). Fourteen patients (13 pseudoaneurysms, 1 combined pseudoaneurysm/fistulae) underwent surgical repair. Pain and/or enlarging hematoma resulted in repair within two days of the diagnosis in 8 patients. The need for chronic anticoagulation prompted elective repair in 2 patients. A pseudoaneurysm was repaired in one patient five days following catheterization when it became painful. In three stable patients, asymptomatic pseudoaneurysms were repaired electively during another surgical procedure. There were no operative deaths. One patient (7%) developed a wound infection postoperatively. Eighteen patients (19 arterial lesions: 9 pseudoaneurysms, 8 arteriovenous fistulae, 2 combined pseudoaneurysms/arteriovenous fistulae) with improving symptoms and stable physical signs were followed by serial clinical evaluation and duplex scans. Seventeen of 19 (89%) of these lesions resolved spontaneously within 5-90 days (mean 30.7 days). One pseudoaneurysm and one arteriovenous fistula persisted on follow-up evaluation; these were repaired electively at 41 and 13 days respectively. There were no complications associated with non-operative management in these patients. We conclude that the natural history of stable pseudoaneurysms or fistulae complicating trans-femoral catheterization is frequently favorable resulting in spontaneous complete resolution. Catheterization-induced pseudoaneurysms and fistulae may thus be initially managed non-operatively in properly selected patients followed clinically and with duplex scans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-447
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992


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