The Why and How of Brachial Artery Punctures on Babies

The brachial artery runs under the skin from the shoulder to just below the elbow. This is the artery that nurses use a stethoscope and a sphygmomanometer (a Velcro nylon cuff wrapped above the elbow) on to determine blood pressure in a patient. Injury, or infection to the brachial artery is a cause of concern even in adults. Brachial artery punctures on babies even more so.

Though the brachial artery is located in the upper arm, blood is usually drawn through the veins. Though normally avoided, some circumstances need the patient to have his or her blood drawn from the brachial artery. Puncturing the brachial artery is a simple procedure. It needs the blood to be drawn above the elbow. By examining the gas levels in a patient’s blood a doctor is able to decide if certain parts of the blood’s chemistry fall within normal perimeters. Blood drawn from the wrist rarely poses any complications. However, if the nurse, or practitioner is off by a bit serious complications can arise. Special care should be taken when brachial artery punctures on babies, children, or adults are performed.

Unless sorely needed doctors avoid drawing blood through the brachial artery. Some of these are accidental when the needle misses a vein and hits the artery. These accidents need to be addressed quickly. The first sign of infection, or a mass should be reported. Fractures to the shoulder or arm region can cause brachial artery punctures on babies. Cases of brachial artery pseudoaneurysm in infants, including premature, need to be surgically resected to restore arterial continuity.

In order prevent accidents, the current trend is to keep from having to use brachial artery punctures on babies.

Failure to correct brachial artery punctures on babies, and even adults, can result in the loss of hand, lower arm, or entire limb. A punctured brachial artery can also lead to an aneurysm followed by death. Other complications may include hemorrhage (bleeding internally or externally), infection, Neuropathy, ruptures, venous thrombosis (a blood clot that can form in the punctured vein, or artery), and distal artery insufficiency. Infections may form underneath the skin, or be visible outside the wound. A doctor should examine any lumps or mass that forms through the wound.

Vigilance and care should be used with any situation where brachial artery punctures on babies is present. If there is no other solution than to draw blood from the brachial artery, it is recommended that parents and guardians learn more about the procedure, what is involved, and the risks by talking with their child’s health care professional.