First, do no harm: bilateral radial artery occlusion in a COVID-19 patient

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademic

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Objective of this case report is to draw attention to a less known thrombotic complication associated with COVID-19, i.e., thrombosis of both radial arteries, with possible (long-term) consequences. The Case: In our COVID-19 ICU a 49-year-old male patient was admitted, with past medical history of obesity, smoking and diabetes, but no reported atherosclerotic complications. The patient had been admitted with severe hypoxemia and multiple pulmonary emboli were CT-confirmed. ICU-treatment included mechanical ventilation and therapeutic anticoagulation. Preparing the insertion of a new radial artery catheter for invasive blood pressure measurement and blood sampling, we detected that both radial arteries were non-pulsating and occluded: (a) Sonography showed the typical anatomical localization of both radial and ulnar arteries. However, Doppler-derived flow-signals could only be obtained from the ulnar arteries. (b) To test collateral arterial supply of the hand, a pulse-oximeter was placed on the index finger. Thereafter, the ulnar artery at the wrist was compressed. This compression caused an immediate loss of the finger’s pulse-oximetry perfusion signal. The effect was reversible upon release of the ulnar artery. (c) To test for collateral perfusion undetectable by pulse-oximetry, we measured regional oxygen saturation (rSO2) of the thenar muscle by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Confirming our findings above, ulnar arterial compression demonstrated that thenar rSO2 was dependent on ulnar artery flow. The described development of bilateral radial artery occlusion in a relatively young and therapeutically anticoagulated patient with no history of atherosclerosis was unexpected. Conclusions: Since COVID-19 patients are at increased risk for arterial occlusion, it appears advisable to meticulously check for adequacy of collateral (hand-) perfusion, avoiding the harm of hand ischemia if interventions (e.g., catheterizations) at the radial or ulnar artery are intended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-662
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of clinical monitoring and computing
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Artery
  • COVID-19
  • Occlusion
  • Radial
  • Thrombosis

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