Study objective: Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) frequently require recurrent courses of IV antibiotics to treat acute exacerbations of their pulmonary disease. Over time, CF patients often lose peripheral access, and indwelling central venous catheters are placed. We attempted to determine the type and incidence of catheter complications so that CF patients could be fully informed of the risks prior to placement of these catheters.
Design: The charts of all CF patients who attended the Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic of the University of Washington Medical Center from January 1989 through December 1998 were reviewed. Demographic information was obtained along with the type and duration of catheter, type and number of complications, and the use of anticoagulant medication.
Measurements and results: Of the 218 CF patients who attended the clinic, 65 patients (30%) had indwelling catheters in place at some time during the study period. A total of 87 catheters were placed into these 65 patients. The total number of catheter-days for first indwelling catheters was 68,220. The total number of catheter-days for all catheters was 75,660 (210 catheter-years). Thirty-five catheter-related complications were identified, occurring in 26 patients. Complications included thrombosis (n = 14), infections (n = 9), mechanical problems (n = 6), pneumothorax (n = 3), superior vena cava syndrome/stenosis (n = 2), and air embolism (n = 1), for an overall complication rate of 0. 463/1,000 catheter-days.
Conclusion: We conclude that indwelling catheters are relatively safe in patients with CF. Good infection control policies appear to prevent most infectious complications. The most common complication is that of thrombosis, which may be recurrent in some patients. Consideration should be given to prophylactic warfarin therapy despite the potential risk of significant hemoptysis in this patient population.