The ex vivo antimicrobial activity and colonization rate of two antimicrobial-bonded central venous catheters

Crit Care Med. 1999 Jun;27(6):1128-31. doi: 10.1097/00003246-199906000-00034.


Objective: Catheter-related sepsis is an important complication associated with the use of central venous catheters. Recent studies have suggested that antimicrobial-bonded catheters may reduce catheter colonization and catheter-related sepsis. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between the antimicrobial activity and the colonization rate of two commercially available antimicrobial-bonded central venous catheters.

Design: Prospective, randomized, controlled, nonblinded study.

Setting: Medical intensive care unit of a university-affiliated teaching hospital.

Patients: One hundred twenty consecutive medical intensive care unit patients requiring new central venous catheters (fresh stick).

Interventions: Patients were randomized to receive a) a Standard Arrow; b) an ARROWgard; or c) a Cook Bio-Guard Spectrum central venous catheter. Central venous catheters were removed when they were no longer required or when catheter-related sepsis was suspected. Under aseptic conditions, the distal 12 cm of the removed catheters were cut into six 2-cm segments. Semiquantitative culture was performed (by roll technique) on the distal segment. Colonization was defined as >15 colony-forming units. Using a modified Kirby-Bauer technique, the zone of inhibition of the remaining five segments was determined against the following organisms: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Staphylococcus epidermidis, Enterococcus faecalis, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Candida albicans Catheters that were removed within 24 hrs of insertion were excluded from the analysis.

Measurements and main results: Seven patients were not assessable. The baseline clinical and demographic characteristics were similar among the three groups of patients. Eleven Standard Arrow (28%), seven ARROWgard (19%), and four Bio-Guard (11%) catheters were colonized (p = .05 for Bio-Guard vs. control). Staphylococci were the most common colonizing organisms. Two patients with Standard Arrow catheters (5%) and one patient with an ARROWgard catheter (3%) developed catheter-related sepsis. Antibiotic-coated catheters significantly inhibited the growth of all test organisms except C. albicans (p < or = .05). Zones of inhibition were significantly larger for the Bio-Guard compared with the ARROWgard catheter when tested against MRSA, S. epidermidis, and E. faecalis (p < or = .002).

Conclusion: The Bio-Guard central venous catheter had greater ex vivo antimicrobial activity against MRSA, S. epidermidis, and E. faecalis compared with the ARROWgard catheter, and this was associated with a significantly lower rate of catheter colonization.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / instrumentation
  • Catheters, Indwelling / microbiology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Middle Aged
  • Sepsis / etiology*
  • Sepsis / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents