Stability and compatibility of antimicrobial lock solutions

Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2013 Dec 15;70(24):2185-98. doi: 10.2146/ajhp120119.


Purpose: Published stability and compatibility data on a growing array of solutions used for antimicrobial lock therapy (ALT) are reviewed.

Summary: ALT involves the instillation of a highly concentrated antimicrobial, often in combination with an anticoagulant, into a central venous catheter (CVC) lumen; this technique is often used for prophylaxis after CVC insertion or as an adjunctive treatment in cases of central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) if catheter removal is not feasible. Optimal selection of stable and compatible antimicrobials and additives can maximize catheter dwell times, streamline pharmacy compounding practices, and help ensure patient safety. Of 98 articles on ALT solutions identified in a literature search, 17 met the prespecified criteria for the use of validated stability and compatibility methodology. Antimicrobials active against common CLABSI pathogens that may be appropriate for ALT include cefazolin, cefotaxime, ceftazidime, ciprofloxacin, daptomycin, gentamicin, linezolid, telavancin, ticarcillin-clavulanic acid, and vancomycin; validated data demonstrate the stability of these agents in solution with heparin or nonheparin anticoagulants over 72-96 hours or longer. Other antifungal agents and antiinfectives (e.g., ethyl alcohol) have been used in specific patients and ALT situations. The prolonged stability of several antimicrobial-additive combinations may allow for extended dwell times and less frequent lock solution exchanges.

Conclusion: Pharmacists' knowledge of diverse combinations of antimicrobial agents and additives in lock solutions, including several shown to be stable and compatible for extended periods, can help expand and optimize the use of ALT in both treatment and prophylactic modalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / chemistry
  • Catheter-Related Infections / prevention & control*
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / adverse effects
  • Catheterization, Central Venous / methods*
  • Drug Compounding
  • Drug Incompatibility
  • Drug Stability
  • Heparin / administration & dosage*
  • Heparin / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin