Subclavian Venoplasty May Reduce Implant Times and Implant Failures in the Era of Increasing Device Upgrades


  • Disclosure: The authors have no financial relationships to disclose.

Address for reprints: Eugen C. Palma, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.H.R.S., Director, Weiler Arrhythmia Service, Associate Professor of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1825 Eastchester Road, Bronx, NY 10461. Fax: 718-904-2075; e-mail:


Background:The incidence of subclavian venous occlusions (SCVOs) may be an increasing problem in the era of device upgrades, especially to cardiac resynchronization therapy. Venoplasty (VP) performed by the electrophysiologist as a way of managing SCVOs may be advantageous.

Methods:We reviewed the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implants of the past 5 years at Montefiore Medical Center and searched for SCVOs that required intervention and compared cases where VP was performed with cases where it was not.

Results:Of 1,853 ICD implants, 41 SCVOs (2.2%) requiring intervention were identified. Its incidence increased seven-fold from 0.7% in 2005 to 5.2% in 2009. Twenty-seven of the 41 SCVOs were found during a device upgrade. Of these 41 SCVOs, 18 underwent VP and 23 did not. In the VP group, there was a trend towards a shorter total procedure time, 2:31 hours versus 3:28 hours (P = 0.37), and the total fluoroscopy time was 30 minutes versus 27 minutes (P = 0.55). VP was successful in all 18 patients. Among the non-VP group (n = 23), five (21.5%) had a failed implantation because of the inability to gain venous access and 10 (42.7%) had to be implanted on the contralateral side.

Conclusion:The incidence of SCVOs requiring intervention is increasing in the era of device upgrades. VP performed by an electrophysiologist appears to be a safe and efficient approach to manage these SCVOs. VP seems to reduce the implant time and the need to implant on the other side as well as implant failure due to the inability to gain venous access. PACE 2012; 35:444–448)