Advances in tunneled central venous catheters for dialysis: design and performance

Semin Dial. 2008 Nov-Dec;21(6):504-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2008.00494.x. Epub 2008 Sep 24.


Over 70% of patients initiating chronic hemodialysis in the United States have a tunneled central venous catheter (CVC) for dialysis as their first blood access device. Tunneled CVC have requirements that are unparalleled by other access devices: high blood flow rates at moderate pressure drops without obstruction, minimal trauma to the vein, resistance to occlusion by fibrous sheathing, prevention of infection, avoidance of clotting, biocompatibility, avoidance of lumen collapse and kinking and breaks, resistance to antiseptic agents, placement with minimal trauma, and radiopaque appearance on X-ray. This publication reviews the numerous designs for tunneled CVC and evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of each design. A catheter that self-centers in the superior vena cava (Centros) is described, along with early clinical results. Current challenges and future directions for tunneled CVC for dialysis are discussed, included means to diminish catheter-related infections, catheter tip clotting, fibrous sheathing, central venous stenosis, and external component bulk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Renal Dialysis / instrumentation*