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August 9, 1993

Low Infection Rate and Long Durability of Nontunneled Silastic Catheters: A Safe and Cost-effective Alternative for Long-term Venous Access

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medical Specialties, Section of Infectious Diseases (Drs Raad, Davis, and Bodey), Nursing and Infusion Therapy (Mss Becker and Houston), General Surgery (Dr Hohn), and Laboratory Medicine, Section of Infection Control (Ms Umphrey), The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston.

Arch Intern Med. 1993;153(15):1791-1796. doi:10.1001/archinte.1993.00410150073007

Background:  Tunneled central venous catheters (CVCs) and infusion ports have often been considered as the only safe alternative for long-term venous access. The objective of this study was to assess the durability, cost, and infection rate of nontunneled, noncuffed Silastic CVCs.

Methods:  We studied a representative cohort of 340 consecutive cancer patients with 359 nontunneled Silastic CVCs inserted and followed up at our center. All patients were evaluated clinically and microbiologically at the time of CVC removal.

Results:  The mean in-place duration of the catheter for the 359 nontunneled CVCs studied was 109 days (total, 39 147 days of catheter use), and the infection rate was 0.13 per 100 catheter days. When compared with the tunneled Hickman catheter, the insertion cost saving was at least $2322 per CVC. At our institution, the use of nontunneled Silastic catheters with the support of an expert infusion team has resulted in an annual cost saving of at least $7 692 000. Long peripheral CVCs (in the basilic/cephalic vein) had a 26% rate of inflammation at the insertion site compared with only 2.6% for the short subclavian CVCs (P<.01). Most of the exit-site inflammations were sterile, with negative skin and catheter cultures. Neutropenia, bone marrow transplantation, high-dose steroids, and use of vesicant chemotherapeutic agents through the CVC did not predispose the patients to catheter infection. By univariate analysis, acute leukemia was the only risk factor for catheter infection.

Conclusions:  Given the low infection rate and long durability of nontunneled silicone CVCs, these catheters could offer a cost-effective and safe alternative to surgically implantable tunneled catheters.(Arch Intern Med. 1993;153:1791-1796)