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Central venous catheterization (CVC), now a common procedure, has several major complications. We assessed their incidence in a prospective study of 1303 cannulations done in the intensive care unit or operating theatre. Chest radiographs were obtained to verify proper catheter placement and to detect pneumothorax. Complications were arterial puncture in 68 (5.2%) patients, arrhythmias in 21 (1.6%), cardiopulmonary arrest in 1 (0.1%), and pneumothorax in 5 (0.5%). The tip of the CVC was incorrectly located in 149 (11.2%). The chest radiograph was a valuable method for detecting complications of central venous catheterization.