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Haemophilia. 2003 Jan;9(1):50-6.

Complications of central venous access devices in paediatric haemophilia patients.

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Vanderbilt Hemostasis-Thrombosis Clinic, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


We conducted a retrospective survey of our experience with central venous access devices (CVADs) implanted in children with haemophilia seen at the Vanderbilt Hemostasis-Thrombosis Clinic from 1986 to 2000. Following discussion with parents on the merits and risks associated with the use of CVADs for immune tolerance induction or factor prophylaxis, catheters were inserted under sterile technique in the operating room. One nurse provided demonstration and teaching about catheter care and access. Thirty central venous catheters were inserted in 22 children. Our survey revealed that the two most common complications associated with central venous catheters were bacteraemia and thrombosis. We found a sepsis rate of 0.30/1000 catheter-days or one episode of bacteraemia for every 3346 days of catheter use. The thrombosis rate of our cohort was 0.13/1000 catheter-days or one episode of thrombosis for every 7529 days of catheter use. Uncomplicated venous access is essential in children with severe haemophilia who require prophylaxis or immune tolerance induction. While infection was the most common complication observed in our series, we experienced a lower overall infection rate than several reported series. Catheter thrombosis and subsequent obstruction may occur as a result of intraluminal fibrin deposits. We conclude that the use of implantable central venous catheters is an effective method for accessing children with haemophilia. We accept that the benefits of CVADs in the treatment of paediatric haemophilia patients outweigh the previously documented risks. Future prospective studies should be designed to define all associated risks and to determine effective strategies to reduce them.

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