Inside-out access: A new method of lead placement for patients with central venous occlusions

Claude S. Elayi, Christopher L. Allen, Steve Leung, Stephanie Lusher, Gustavo X. Morales, Matthew Wiisanen, Shamik Aikat, Bahram Kakavand, Jignesh S. Shah, David J. Moliterno, John C. Gurley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Physicians will increasingly encounter patients who require rhythm management devices but have venous obstructions that prevent conventional access. Alternate access options, such as thoracotomy or transiliac approaches, exist but are associated with greater cost and morbidity. Objective: The purpose of this study is to describe a novel method of vascular access that allows prepectoral placement of conventional pacing and defibrillation leads in patients with complex central venous occlusions. Methods: Eight patients with central venous occlusions were referred for device implantation. Inside-out central venous access (IOCVA) was obtained via a percutaneous femoral approach. A catheter-dilator system was advanced via the right atrium to the most central point of venous occlusion. The occluded vein segment was punctured with a directionally guided needle, which was advanced along intravascular or extravascular tissue planes to the subclavian region. A solid wire needle was oriented toward the skin surface and advanced through the soft tissues until it exists from the body. The wire was used to pull rigid dilators through the occluded segment. Standard transvenous leads were implanted though the newly created channel. Results: All patients with total central venous occlusions (4 superior vena cava, 4 brachiocephalic and bilateral subclavian) had successful, prepectoral device implants (4 left-sided, 1 single-chamber, 4 dual-chamber, 3 biventricular). No procedure-related complications occurred. All patients had normal device function at follow-up of 485 ± 542 days. Conclusion: IOCVA is an effective method of pacemaker and defibrillator implantation for patients with central venous occlusions. Further clinical evaluation of this novel method is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-857
Number of pages7
JournalHeart Rhythm
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Cardiac resynchronization therapy
  • Central venous occlusion
  • Defibrillator
  • Pacemaker
  • Subclavian vein occlusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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