Effect of a second-generation venous catheter impregnated with chlorhexidine and silver sulfadiazine on central catheter-related infections: a randomized, controlled trial

Ann Intern Med. 2005 Oct 18;143(8):570-80. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-143-8-200510180-00007.


Background: Central venous catheter-related infections are a significant medical problem. Improved preventive measures are needed.

Objective: To ascertain 1) effectiveness of a second-generation antiseptic-coated catheter in the prevention of microbial colonization and infection; 2) safety and tolerability of this device; 3) microbiology of infected catheters; and 4) propensity for the development of antiseptic resistance.

Design: Multicenter, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial.

Setting: 9 university-affiliated medical centers.

Patients: 780 patients in intensive care units who required central venous catheterization.

Intervention: Patients received either a standard catheter or a catheter coated with chlorhexidine and silver sulfadiazine.

Measurements: The authors assessed catheter colonization and catheter-related infection, characterized microbes by molecular typing, and determined their susceptibility to antiseptics. Patient tolerance of the catheter was monitored.

Results: Patients with the 2 types of catheters had similar demographic features, clinical interventions, laboratory values, and risk factors for infection. Antiseptic catheters were less likely to be colonized at the time of removal compared with control catheters (13.3 vs. 24.1 colonized catheters per 1000 catheter-days; P < 0.01). The center-stratified Cox regression hazard ratio for colonization controlling for sampling design and potentially confounding variables was 0.45 (95% CI, 0.25 to 0.78). The rate of definitive catheter-related bloodstream infection was 1.24 per 1000 catheter-days (CI, 0.26 to 3.62 per 1000 catheter-days) for the control group versus 0.42 per 1000 catheter-days (CI, 0.01 to 2.34 per 1000 catheter-days) for the antiseptic catheter group (P = 0.6). Coagulase-negative staphylococci and other gram-positive organisms were the most frequent microbes to colonize catheters. Noninfectious adverse events were similar in both groups. Antiseptic susceptibility was similar for microbes recovered from either group.

Limitations: The antiseptic catheter was not compared with an antibiotic-coated catheter, and no conclusion can be made regarding its effect on bloodstream infection.

Conclusions: The second-generation chlorhexidine-silver sulfadiazine catheter is well tolerated. Antiseptic coating appears to reduce microbial colonization of the catheter compared with an uncoated catheter.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Bacteremia / prevention & control*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / instrumentation*
  • Catheters, Indwelling*
  • Chlorhexidine / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Equipment Contamination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Silver Sulfadiazine / administration & dosage*
  • Skin / microbiology


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Silver Sulfadiazine