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Cannulation of the femoral vein

Created: 5/4/2004
The femoral vein may be cannulated for central access. However, the risk of infection is greater at this site. It is a useful site in patients with superior vena caval obstruction.


The femoral vein is the continuation of the popliteal vein and accompanies the femoral artery in the femoral triangle. The femoral vein ends medial to the artery at the inguinal ligament, where it becomes the external iliac vein.

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These images have been reproduced with kind permission from © Primal Pictures Ltd.


Extend the patient’s leg and abduct slightly at the hip. Adopt full asepsis. Locate the femoral artery, keep a finger on the artery and introduce a needle attached to a 10 ml syringe at 45 degrees, 1.5 cm medial to the femoral artery pulsation, 2 cm below the inguinal ligament. Slowly advance the needle cephalad and posteriorly while gently withdrawing the plunger. When a free flow of blood appears, follow the Seldinger approach, as detailed previously.


 Deep vein thrombosis
 Arterial or neurological damage
 Arteriovenous fistula

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