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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2002 Aug;13(8):2133-9.

Prevention of tunneled hemodialysis catheter-related infections using catheter-restricted filling with gentamicin and citrate: a randomized controlled study.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia.


Tunneled catheters are widely used for the provision of hemodialysis. Long-term catheter survival is limited by tunneled catheter-related infections (CRI). This study assesses the efficacy of catheter-restricted filling with gentamicin and citrate in preventing CRI in hemodialysis patients. A double-blind randomized study was conducted to compare heparin (5000 U/ml) with gentamicin/citrate (40 mg/ml and 3.13% citrate; ratio 2:1) as catheter-lock solutions. A total of 112 tunneled catheters in 83 patients were enrolled at the time of catheter insertion for commencement or maintenance of hemodialysis. The primary end point was CRI. Catheter malfunction, defined as blood flow rate of <200 ml/min for three consecutive dialyses and/or the use of urokinase, was also assessed as a secondary end point. Infection rates per 100 catheter-days were 0.03 in the gentamicin group versus 0.42 in the heparin group (P = 0.003). Kaplan-Meier survival analyses showed mean infection-free catheter survival of 282 d (95% CI, 272 to 293 d) in the gentamicin group versus 181 d (95% CI, 124 to 237 d) in the heparin group (log rank, 9.58; P = 0.002). Cox regression analyses showed a relative risk for infection-free catheter survival of 0.10 (95% CI, 0.01 to 0.92) in the gentamicin group when adjusted for gender, race, diabetes mellitus, catheter malfunction, and hemoglobin (P = 0.042). The incidence of catheter malfunction was not significantly different between groups. Predialysis gentamicin levels were significantly higher in patients randomized to gentamicin (gentamicin/citrate: median 2.8 mg/L [range, 0.6 to 3.5 mg/L], n = 5; heparin: median <0.2 mg/L [range <0.2 to 0.2 mg/L], n = 5; P = 0.008). Tunneled hemodialysis catheter-restricted filling with gentamicin and citrate is a highly effective strategy for prevention of CRI. Although citrate as a catheter-lock solution provides adequate anticoagulation for the interdialytic period, gentamicin levels suggest significant risk for chronic aminoglycoside exposure and associated ototoxicity. Before this technique is adopted, these preliminary observations warrant replication in future studies that will examine the efficacy and safety of lower doses of gentamicin or alternative agents with a reduced potential for toxicity.

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