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Arch Intern Med. 1992 Jun;152(6):1299-302.

The clinical impact of culturing central venous catheters. A prospective study.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City 52242.


The semiquantitative culture technique is a standard procedure for the laboratory diagnosis of catheter-associated infections and catheter-associated bacteremia. In a prospective observational study, we evaluated the clinical impact of the semiquantitative culture results on the treatment of the patient. Clinical impact was defined as a change in diagnosis or therapy on the basis of the semiquantitative culture result. One hundred fifty-seven catheters consecutively submitted from the surgical intensive care unit to the laboratory were studied. In 96% of the episodes, no clinical impact was observed. In the other 4%, clinical decisions were guided mainly by the concurrent positive blood cultures. Newer laboratory techniques that do not require removal of the catheter are needed to guide therapeutic decisions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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