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Am J Surg. 1993 Feb;165(2):249-51.

Major long-term complications in 1,422 permanent venous access devices.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Hahnemann University, Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102.


A retrospective review was undertaken of 1,422 permanent venous access devices (PVADs) implanted from 1989 to 1991 at Hahnemann University Hospital. This included 730 single-lumen Hickman catheters, 368 double-lumen Hickman catheters, 307 single-lumen Portacath infusion ports, and 17 double-lumen Portacath infusion ports. Indications for placement were as follows: antibiotics in 28%; chemotherapy in 51%; hyperalimentation in 4%; intravenous fluids in 4%; hemodialysis in 3%; and undocumented indications in 10%. There were 60 PVADs removed and/or replaced prior to the completion of intended therapy (4% overall). Indications for removal were catheter infection in 1% of cases and catheter malfunction in 3% of cases. The percentage of Portacath infusion ports removed was significantly greater than the percentage of Hickman catheters that were removed (p < 0.001). However, there was no significant relationship between catheter infection or the malfunction rate, and the number of lumens, initial indication for placement, or number of catheters placed. Life-threatening complications associated with PVAD insertion occurred in fewer than 1% of cases. The insertion of PVADs is a safe and efficient mode of long-term venous access.

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