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J Clin Pathol. 2003 Oct;56(10):731-5.

Prevention of catheter related bloodstream infection by silver iontophoretic central venous catheters: a randomised controlled trial.

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Division of Surgery, The University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.



To evaluate the efficacy of silver iontophoretic central venous catheters in preventing catheter related colonisation and bloodstream infection among high risk patients in a tertiary hospital.


Patients requiring central venous access for a period greater than seven days were stratified into two groups according to systemic inflammatory response syndrome criteria before being randomly assigned to receive either silver iontophoretic or control catheters. The incidence of catheter colonisation and catheter related bloodstream infection (CRBSI) was recorded.


Three hundred and four single lumen study catheters were inserted into 268 patients. Total duration of catheterisation was 5449 days (median, 12 days/catheter). Complete data could be evaluated in 270 catheters: 128 silver iontophoretic catheters and 140 untreated catheters. Forty seven silver iontophoretic catheters (36.7%) were colonised compared with 48 control catheters (33.8%). Seven cases (5.5%) of CRBSI occurred in patients who received silver iontophoretic catheters, compared with 11 cases (7.7%) in patients receiving control catheters. There was no significant difference in the incidence of catheter colonisation or CRBSI between silver iontophoretic and control catheters. When the duration of catheter placement was taken into consideration, Kaplan-Meier analysis showed no significant difference in the risk of CRBSI between the silver iontophoretic catheters and the untreated catheters (p = 0.77).


There was no significant difference in the incidence of catheter colonisation or CRBSI among high risk patients between silver iontophoretic catheters and control catheters. Future prospective, randomised studies with a larger number of catheters are encouraged to confirm or refute these results.

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