Suitability of the pericardiophrenic veins for phrenic nerve stimulation: An anatomic study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the potential of the pericardiophrenic veins (PPVs) as conduits for transvenous stimulation of the phrenic nerves. Modulating respiration with transvenous phrenic nerve stimulation via the PPVs might reduce or eliminate the adverse effects of central sleep apnea in heart failure. Methods: Forty-eight fixed cadavers were dissected to study the anatomic characteristics of the PPVs and related neurovascular structures. Results: The right PPV, found in only 1 of 35 cadavers, was <0.5 mm diameter. The left PPV, located in all 48 cadavers, drained into the left brachiocephalic vein (BCV) directly or into the BCV via the superior intercostal vein (SICV). Mean ± SD SICV trunk diameter was 4 ± 2 mm. Mean ± SD left PPV diameter was 2 ± 1 mm. The length between the point of separation of the left PPV from the phrenic nerve to its junction with the BCV or SICV trunk ranged from 6 to 40 mm. The angle of approach, defined as the angle formed by the intersection of the longitudinal axis of the BCV and the longitudinal axis of the PPV or SICV trunk, and which represents the angle that would need to be navigated when inserting a stimulation lead into the PPV using a peripheral cannulation approach, was 99 ± 28 degrees. Valves were identified in 54% of left PPVs. Conclusions: Because of its extremely small size, the right PPV appears unsuitable for transvenous phrenic nerve stimulation. In contrast, the left PPV may be accessible via the left BCV using standard transvenous catheterization techniques; however, the small caliber of the left PPV and the frequent presence of valves within it might pose challenges in navigating the vessel to achieve transvenous phrenic nerve stimulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-342
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011


  • Pericardiophrenic veins
  • phrenic nerves
  • transvenous pacing


Dive into the research topics of 'Suitability of the pericardiophrenic veins for phrenic nerve stimulation: An anatomic study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this