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Atrial Box stitched to my wrists?

I was in ICU way back in 2008 and never really concerned about why or for what reason these boxes were attached to my wrist with 2 stiches. From the scars they left I must of had 4 of them 2 on each wrist. They were smaller than a box of matches and had a sticker on it with ATRIAL nothing else? I know I had to have a few transfusions while in there (6 units one day) so assumed it was for that but do not know? You can see were a needle was inserted as that has left a scar also.

Any ideas?

Be Well

6 Replies

Don't mention Artials to me offcut, I've seen grown men cry and flatly refuse them as they couldn't take the pain. I've had many done in the wrists and like you have the scares to prove it. :)

At one point in ICU they couldn't find an artery in either wrist so they put one in my foot. A consultant who came along the next day said I've seen many a foot lost caused by putting a line in down there. Just what I wanted to here!!!! :)

I never had the boxes fitted though, maybe they saved you having to have the line changed after so many days like they were doing with me.

ICU is an amazing place but they do make you suffer a little at times, but with smiles on their faces. :)

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I had so many lines put in during my 3 month in ICU, anywhere they could find to put one they put one, hands, feet, neck and groyne all with their nice little scars, but the strangest one is on my neck where the ventilator tube was tied on for 19 days, it looks like they tried cutting my head off, even after nearly 4 years it's never faded, I guess we should call them our badges of honour.


When I came back from another hospital that had me on an Oscillator for 10 days and I had stitches removed from my right ear and neck were something was kept in place?


Hi Offcut

In critical care I don't think we appreciate how strange it must be to see marks on your skin and wonder what they are from. From your description it sounds like an arterial line, the artery is pierced by a needle then a thin plastic tube (like a drip) is inserted into the artery (often wrist but can be inner elbow, foot or groin) used for measuring blood pressure and taking bloods. They are used often because they are so useful when someone is critically ill as it means you get a constant display of blood pressure on the monitor which is vital when blood pressure is low and you are using drugs to increase it. Also you can take blood from arterial lines without needing needles so it actually saves you (the patient) pain over the days. I'm sure it sounds a bit brutal to stitch them in but most doctors do because if they fall out it can be dangerous because they will bleed so much because they are in an artery. They usually stay in place for between 5-12 days depending on how the person is progressing. From your description the 'box' is the part which sends the signal to the monitor so the blood pressure can be displayed.

As you have four scars I'm guessing you were in critical care for a while so congratulations on your recovery which I imagine would be hard work.

Hope this helps and sorry yes part of being critically ill means we stick tubes everywhere but it's these things that help to get you better.


I also had cannula s attached to the top of the hand with a valve so bloods could be taken easily etc. these were changed every 3 days I think. I have to much scaring in my groin to see if they put any there due to many heart procedures over the years.

Thank you for your kind words, My Wife was told a few times I was not going to survive the night! Glad to say they got that one wrong.


I had one stitched in and boy it was freaking sore lol. Why no local anaesthetic for these ? I was glad I was in a coma when the Central line and all the other tubes and catheters were,put in too. Maybe the doctors think we are made of steel after all we have went through lol.


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