Purpose: Percutaneously inserted central venous catheters are widely used. Catheter-related bacteremia or fungemia is the most frequent serious complication of these catheters. In an attempt to reduce the frequency of such infections, a subcutaneous cuff constructed of a biodegradable collagen matrix impregnated with bactericidal silver was developed. Our goal was to assess, in a multicenter clinical trial, the effectiveness of this cuff in preventing catheter-related infection.
Materials and methods: Central venous catheters needed for fluid or drug therapy, hemodynamic monitoring, or hyperalimentation in patients in three centers were randomly assigned to be inserted with or without the cuff. Patients and catheters in the two groups were comparable in terms of risk factors predisposing to infection, including colonization of skin about the insertion site.
Results: The results with 234 catheters inserted into a new site showed that catheters inserted with the cuff were threefold less likely to be colonized on removal (more than 15 colony-forming units) than were control catheters (28.9 percent versus 9.1 percent, p = 0.002) and were nearly fourfold less likely to produce bacteremia (3.7 percent versus 1.0 percent). Adverse effects from the cuff were not seen. The cuff did not confer protection, however against infection with catheters inserted over a guidewire into old sites. Most of the catheter-related infections identified in this study, including four of the six bacteremias, appear to have been caused by microorganisms colonizing skin about the insertion site, affirming the pathogenetic basis for benefit seen with the cuff in this clinical trial; two may have derived from contamination of the catheter hub.
Conclusion: This novel, silver-impregnated, attachable cuff can substantially reduce the incidence of catheter-related infection with most percutaneously inserted central venous catheters, can extend the time catheters can be left in place safely, and can prove cost-beneficial.