Last reviewed 01/2018

Swan-Ganz catheterisation is safe in experienced hands. Complications include:

  • cardiac arrythmias:
    • usually occur during insertion of the catheter
    • the arrythmias are usually benign, resolving if the catheter is retracted temporarily

  • sepsis:
    • local infection at the site of insertion
    • septicaemia
    • bacterial endocarditis

  • valve trauma:
    • if the catheter is removed with the balloon inflated
    • by repeated opening and closing over the catheter

  • thrombosis and embolism:
    • if the balloon is left inflated too long or if there is a thromboembolic event, large volumes of lung may be infarcted
    • the clinical features are those of a pulmonary embolus

  • rupture of the pulmonary artery:
    • this is a rare but fatal complication

  • rupture of the balloon:
    • this is rare

  • knotting:
    • the catheter may become knotted in the right ventricle
    • may require surgical removal