Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Lost Art of Landmarking: Right Internal Jugular Insertion Video

I have long wanted to post a video of central line insertion using the traditional landmarks method, and recently I was afforded the perfect opportunity.  The patient needed a dialysis catheter.  He had had one inserted a few months ago and it had been a disaster for him.  First, the inserting physician mistakenly installed a Cordis Introducer instead of a dialysis catheter, using ultrasound guidance and causing a good deal of pain by transecting the belly of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle, then it was rewired to a dialysis catheter that would not flow, then, finally, a working catheter was installed in a new site.  I assured the patient that this go at it would be much easier and he was very interested in having the experience recorded so he could later see it, and others could learn from it.

I previously observed that in the current training atmosphere, trainees are paying no attention to anatomical landmarks, rather they are just poking wherever they see the vein on the ultrasound image, traversing whatever structures lie between the surface and the target, without any care whatever.  It is my belief that the SCM muscle should never be split/transected with a dilator or line unless absolutely necessary.  Thus even if ultrasound is used, the landmarks ought to be identified and respected.

Several points in the video need further explication here.  (Beyond the facts that my nose did not fit under the mask, I did not wear eye protection, and that I failed to lay out the components of the tray beforehand.)

  • The importance of properly and confidently identifying the bellies/heads of the SCM cannot be overemphasized.  I will at some point do another video to go through that process specifically in detail.
  • I always keep 0.5-1.0 cc of liquid (lidocaine or flush) in the syringe during needle passes.  In my experience, it minimizes clotting in the needle and the risk of passing through the vessel without flash due to clot.
  • In contrast to what is suggested in the NEJM video for RIJ CVC insertion, I do not hold the needle at 45 degrees to the floor plane when going after the IJ.  Doing this makes you have to insert the needle much deeper, increasing the risk of pneumothorax.  I prefer an angle of 60-90 degrees.
  • In this patient, the IJ was deeper than usual and than I expected, thus I did not hit it with the "seeker" needle.
  • When the fingers of my left hand are on the neck, I am not palpating the carotid pulse.  I could care less about the carotid.  I am feeling that medial belly of the SCM as a landmark and ever so gently pushing it to the left to increase exposure of the IJ underneath of it.
  • When entering the skin with the large bore needle, I poke to and fro rapidly to keep it from "breaking through" the skin and plunging too deep.
  • Notice that each centimeter or so that I enter with the large bore needle, I pause and pull back a bit to see if I get flash in case the vessel is compressed on the forward pass.  In the video, I get flash on the second or third pull back.
  • After I get flash, I then lay the needle back to 45 degrees to facilitate guidewire passage
  • This patient's skin and subcutaneous tissue was tougher than I expected and I did not make a generous enough stab incision into the subcutaneous tissues to make a tract for the dilator.  Usually I use a regular 7.0 French triple lumen CVC kit dilator first, then the smaller of the two dilators that come with the larger 12 French dialysis catheter.  This is a new all-inclusive kit that we began using which contains only the large dilators.
  • The bleep is to protect privacy
Stay tuned for the subclavian vein CVC insertion video next!

[Formal written consent was obtained from this patient to make this video and to publish it for educational purposes.]

Special thanks to Clayton MS4 for filming this and helping with editing.  Other medical students are encouraged to participate in future web and social media initiatives.  I have several in mind.


  1. the larger 12 French dialysis catheter. This is a new all-inclusive kit that we began using which con