Centrally inserted external catheters and totally implantable ports for the delivery of chemotherapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of device-related complications

Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2014 Aug;37(4):990-1008. doi: 10.1007/s00270-013-0771-3. Epub 2013 Nov 13.


Purpose: This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the risks of complications (infectious and non-infectious) including the need for device removal associated with centrally inserted external catheters compared with totally implantable ports in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Methods: Relevant major electronic databases were searched from inception to December 2012. All randomized controlled trials (RCT) and observational studies that compared centrally inserted external catheters with totally implantable ports in patients undergoing chemotherapy were included in the systematic review. Meta-analysis was carried out to estimate the odds ratios of device-associated complications, including infection, non-infectious complications and device removal associated with external catheters relative to implantable ports.

Results: Overall, five RCTs and 25 observational studies were included in the study. The studies were heterogeneous, and included adults and children, with different types of cancer, undergoing chemotherapy. Based on the pooled estimates from included studies, external catheters were associated with approximately a three to four-fold increase in the risks of infections, non-infectious complications and device removal compared implantable ports.

Conclusion: The findings of this study showed that totally implantable ports are superior to external catheters in terms of catheter-associated complications. However, a formal health technology assessment on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the use of implantable ports compared with external catheters is needed to inform policy makers of the relative value of investing in totally implantable devices compared with external catheters.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / instrumentation
  • Catheters, Indwelling / adverse effects*
  • Device Removal
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antineoplastic Agents