Context: Central venous catheters impregnated with chlorhexidine and silver sulfadiazine have recently been introduced for the prevention of catheter-related infections. However, there remains some uncertainty regarding the efficacy of these catheters because of conflicting reports in the literature.
Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of chlorhexidine-silver sulfadiazine-impregnated central venous catheters in the prevention of catheter-related bloodstream infection.
Data sources: Studies identified from a computerized search of the MEDLINE database from January 1966 to January 1998, reference lists of identified articles, and queries of principal investigators and the catheter manufacturer.
Study selection: Randomized trials comparing chlorhexidine-silver sulfadiazine-impregnated central venous catheters with nonimpregnated catheters were included. The outcomes assessed were catheter colonization and catheter-related bloodstream infection confirmed by catheter culture.
Data extraction: Twelve studies met the inclusion criteria for catheter colonization and included a total of 2611 catheters. Eleven studies with a total of 2603 catheters met the inclusion criteria for catheter-related bloodstream infection. Most patients in these studies were from groups considered to be at high risk for catheter-related infections. Summary statistics were calculated using Mantel-Haenszel methods under a fixed-effects model.
Data synthesis: The summary odds ratio for catheter colonization was 0.44 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.36-0.54; P<.001), indicating a significant decrease in catheter colonization associated with impregnated catheters. The studies examining the outcome of primary interest, catheter-related bloodstream infection, had a summary odds ratio of 0.56 (95% CI, 0.37-0.84; P = .005).
Conclusions: Central venous catheters impregnated with a combination of chlorhexidine and silver sulfadiazine appear to be effective in reducing the incidence of both catheter colonization and catheter-related bloodstream infection in patients at high risk for catheter-related infections.