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Sept 21, 1963

Bacterial Contamination of Indwelling Intravenous Polyethylene Catheters

Author Affiliations


Formerly, Chief Resident, Department of Medicine (Dr. Druskin), and formerly, Resident, Department of Medicine, and presently, Attending Physician (Dr. Siegel), Philadelphia General Hospital. Clinical Associate in Medicine, Woman's College of Pennsylvania (Dr. Siegel).; Dr. Druskin is presently with Department of Medicine, Sinai Hospital, and Assistant Physician, Hematology Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and assistant in Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

JAMA. 1963;185(12):966-968. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03060120076031

THE INTRODUCTION of plastic indwelling intravenous catheters has greatly facilitated longterm parenteral therapy.

This technique, however, has been associated with numerous complications, the most common of which are thrombophlebitis1-7 and phlebitis associated with sepsis.3-5, 8, 9 Other hazards include pulmonary embolism, acute bacterial endocarditis, catheter breakage, and embolism and thrombus formation of the atrial and ventricular endocardium.10

Of particular interest to the authors is the role played by the catheter in local and systemic infection. It has been suggested that bacteria may invade the vein through the cutaneous portal of catheter entry or infect the thrombus which propagates at the catheter tip.9 This initially bland thrombus may become infected through the blood stream by bacteria from a remote site.5 The catheter itself then serves to disseminate infection.

The present study was prompted by these possibilities.

Methods  Patients were selected at random from the wards of

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