Background: Hemodialysis (HD) access-related infection is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in HD patients. We tested whether hypoalbuminemia is a risk factor for HD access infection and whether mortality of HD catheter infection is affected by removal of the infected catheter.
Methods: We analyzed the records of 87 patients on chronic HD who were hospitalized for HD access-related infection. We obtained data on age, sex, preinfection serum albumin level, comorbidities, complications, infecting organism, type of infection, mode of management, and mortality. We compared preinfection serum albumin levels in 79 patients with HD access infection with the serum albumin levels of 198 control patients on chronic HD without HD access infection admitted to the hospital during the same time for other reasons. In the HD catheter infection subgroup, we compared mortalities between patients treated with catheter removal plus antibiotics as the primary mode of management and those treated initially with antibiotics alone.
Results: Preadmission serum albumin level was lower in the HD access infection group (2.4 +/- 0.6 g/dL) than in the control group (3.2 +/- 0.6 g/dL, P < 0.0001). Logistic regression identified preadmission serum albumin level as a strong independent predictor of HD access infection. In a logistic regression model, with age, sex, HIV status, diabetes, and type of HD vascular access (excluding arterovenous fistula) as the covariates, the odds ratio of HD access infection was 9.8 (95% confidence interval [CI] 4.9-19.7) for a serum albumin level </= 3.0 g/dL (P < 0.0001), 10.4 (95% CI 4.97-21.6) for a serum albumin level </= 2.5 g/dL (P < 0.0001), and 28.0 (95% CI 5.8-135.9) for a serum albumin level </= 2.0 g/dL (P < 0.0001). Case mortality was 25.0% (4/16) in patients with tunneled HD catheter infection initially treated with antibiotics alone and 2.8% (2/71) in those treated with catheter removal plus antibiotics at the time of presentation (P = 0.0096).
Conclusion: Hypoalbuminemia is associated with increased risk of HD access infection. Treatment of HD access infection with antibiotics alone is associated with increased risk of death.