Since January 1994, we have used percutaneous placement of both the subclavian and femoral cannulae to establish access for venovenous bypass during orthotopic liver transplantation. Percutaneous subclavian and femoral cannulae were used in 36 patients of which 5 had portal decompression by placement of a cannula in inferior mesenteric vein percutaneously through the abdominal wall. Intraoperative placement of the subclavian cannula is facilitated by placing a subclavian central venous line before the abdominal incision. One patient underwent exploration for femoral vein bleeding early in our experience. Another patient sustained hypotension as a result of a kinked subclavian cannula. In 4 patients, early in this experience, we had difficulty placing the subclavian cannula and resorted to axillary vein cut‐down. There were no episodes of deep venous thrombosis detected by routine postoperative duplex ultrasonography. Minimum and maximum flow rates were significantly better (P < 0.01), with percutaneously placed cannulae in comparison to a control group of patients who underwent transplantation in whom we used the standard venous cut‐down approach with a #7 Gott shunt (2.14 and 3.17 L/min v 1.65 and 2.41 L/min, respectively). Percutaneous placement of cannulae for venovenous bypass during liver transplantation is quick, safe, and effective. We would advocate this technique as an alternative approach for patients in whom bypass is deemed necessary.
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