Recently, Okeson and Wulbrecht (September 1998)1
reported their experience with 6,185 brachial arterial punctures for
arterial blood sampling, demonstrating a very low complication rate.
Hematoma formation occurred in 4 patients (0.06%), immediate pain or
paresthesias in 66 patients (1.1%), and delayed pain or paresthesias
in 57 patients (0.9%). Of the few subjects who experienced immediate
pain in the distribution of the median nerve, only one had discomfort
that lasted > 48 h, and full resolution occurred within 2 months of
the procedure. Only one subject with delayed pain or paresthesias had
persistent symptoms, and again full resolution occurred within 4
months. Although the complication rates related to brachial artery
puncture are low in this study, there is a risk of progressive median
nerve damage, as demonstrated by the following example.