Journal Article

Are Antimicrobial-Impregnated Catheters Effective? Replace the Water and Grab Your Washcloth, Because We Have a Baby to Wash

Scott A. McConnell, Paul O. Gubbins and Elias J. Anaissie

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 39, issue 12, pages 1829-1833
Published in print December 2004 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online December 2004 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1086/426086
Are Antimicrobial-Impregnated Catheters Effective? Replace the Water and Grab Your Washcloth, Because We Have a Baby to Wash

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Significant controversy surrounds the usefulness of central venous catheters (CVCs) impregnated with antimicrobial agents (A-CVCs) for the prevention of catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs). In a recent issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, we reviewed 11 published trials of A-CVCs versus uncoated CVCs, and we concluded that there is a lack of solid evidence to support a benefit of A-CVCs in reducing the rate of CRBSIs. A response to our review was recently published in Clinical Infectious Diseases. In this response, our colleagues assert that there is a large body of evidence that demonstrates a powerful decrease in the risk of infection, and they conclude that we should not waste precious resources while we perform additional research to confirm what we have already found to be true. Although these authors agree with us on the significant shortcomings of the studies used to support the use of A-CVCs, they dismiss the need for additional trials to demonstrate that the use of A-CVCs does reduce infections. This dismissal, however, cannot be justified, because of the existence of an ongoing, federally supported, multicenter, prospective, placebo-controlled trial, led by our colleagues, that compares the rate of CRBSIs among patients randomized to receive either an A-CVC or a “placebo” uncoated CVC. That our colleagues are leading a trial that assesses the efficacy of A-CVCs versus placebo uncoated CVCs supports our viewpoint that the truth regarding the protective role of A-CVCs has yet to be determined. Because of the significant cost, potential toxicity, and risk of increased antimicrobial resistance associated with the use of A-CVCs, and until the results of the important trial conducted by our colleagues convincingly demonstrate that A-CVCs reduce the rate of clinically significant events (not just catheter colonization), we recommend that the use of A-CVCs be limited to investigational settings.

Journal Article.  3415 words. 

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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