Background: Despite the US Dialysis Outcome Quality Initiative )DOQI( guidelines, for various reasons, increasing numbers of end-stage renal disease patients are becoming dependent on cuffed haemodialysis catheters (HCs) for chronic haemodialysis access. Their use is complicated by frequent failure due to thrombosis and catheter-related sepsis. In our unit, all HCs are put in place by the radiology department.
Methods: In a prospective study we looked at the outcome of all HCs over a three-year period, during which time 573 consecutive HCs were placed in 336 patients. Each line was followed individually until it was removed or until the end of the study.
Results: In a survival analysis of those HCs removed following HC failure, HC half-life was 312 days and one-year HC survival was 47.5%. The most frequent indications for HC removal were non-function (36.6%), clinical suspicion of line sepsis (16.4%) and patient death (14.4%). Using a Cox proportional hazards model, catheter number in a given patient and the presence of diabetes mellitus were found to be independent predictors of HC failure. The total incidence of HC-related sepsis was 1.3 episodes/1000 catheter days. The probability of developing bacteraemic HC-related sepsis was 27.5% at one year.
Conclusions: Less than half of the HCs were removed electively because of availability of a more permanent mode of renal replacement, thereby illustrating the level of dependence that has developed on them as permanent access. Consequently, their limitations (infection and malfunction) are placing an ever increasing burden on the healthcare services.