CVC position on chest x-ray (summary)

Last revised by Bálint Botz on 3 Feb 2022
This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Chest x-ray CVC (central venous catheter) position should be assessed following initial placement and on subsequent radiographs.

Reference article

This is a summary article; for a more in-depth reference article see central venous catheter.


  • insertion
    • may be inserted via
      • internal jugular vein (left or right)
      • subclavian vein (left or right)
  • assessing position
    • window the image to best visualize the line
    • trace the line from its insertion towards the heart
    • visualize the tip of the line
      • tip should be at the cavoatrial junction
    • document the position of the line
  • potential malposition
    • tip too high: proximal SVC
      • increased risk of thrombus formation
    • tip too low: distal right atrium or right ventricle
      • increased risk of arrhythmia
    • coiled or displaced in another vein​

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: misplaced into left subclavian vein
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2: tip in the right atrium
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