The clinical impact of culturing central venous catheters. A prospective study

Arch Intern Med. 1992 Jun;152(6):1299-302.


The semiquantitative culture technique is a standard procedure for the laboratory diagnosis of catheter-associated infections and catheter-associated bacteremia. In a prospective observational study, we evaluated the clinical impact of the semiquantitative culture results on the treatment of the patient. Clinical impact was defined as a change in diagnosis or therapy on the basis of the semiquantitative culture result. One hundred fifty-seven catheters consecutively submitted from the surgical intensive care unit to the laboratory were studied. In 96% of the episodes, no clinical impact was observed. In the other 4%, clinical decisions were guided mainly by the concurrent positive blood cultures. Newer laboratory techniques that do not require removal of the catheter are needed to guide therapeutic decisions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Candida albicans / isolation & purification
  • Catheterization, Central Venous*
  • Enterococcus faecalis / isolation & purification
  • Equipment Contamination / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Staphylococcus / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents