balloon flotation catheter

Last reviewed 01/2018

A Swan-Ganz catheter is used to measure blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation.

The catheter is inserted into a large vein e.g. femoral, antecubittal or jugular and is passed into the right atrium. The balloon is inflated and the blood flow takes the catheter into the right ventricle, the pulmonary artery and finally it becomes embedded in a proximal branch of the pulmonary artery.

The position of the catheter at each stage is monitored by the characteristic pressure waveforms.

Pressure measurements are performed in two ways:

  • with the balloon deflated and the catheter in the pulmonary artery:
    • pulmonary artery mean systolic pressure
    • pulmonary artery end diastolic pressure

  • with the balloon inflated and the catheter embedded in a branch of the pulmonary artery:
    • pulmonary capillary wedge pressure

The catheter may also be used to estimate the cardiac output.

A Swan-Ganz catheter should be removed after 72 hours to prevent infection.