Pulmonary artery catheter

Last revised by Joshua Yap on 7 May 2024

Pulmonary artery catheters (PAC or Swan-Ganz catheters) are balloon flotation catheters that are inserted into the pulmonary arteries. They can be inserted simply, quickly, with little training and without fluoroscopic guidance at the bedside, even in the seriously ill patient.


Historically, pulmonary artery catheters were widely used to measure right heart hemodynamic indices and pulmonary arterial and capillary wedge pressures. Their use has since fallen out of favor due to adverse trial data 1. However, they still have important niche uses.

These catheters should ideally be positioned in the proximal right or left main pulmonary artery

History and etymology

The first balloon flotation flow-directed catheter that did not require image-guidance for insertion and therefore could be inserted at the bedside was introduced in 1970 2 by William Ganz (1919-2009) 3 and Harold James Charles​ "Jeremy" Swan (1922-2005) 4, both cardiologists at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Los Angeles.

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