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Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2005 Aug;26(8):708-14.

The effects of prolonged ethanol exposure on the mechanical properties of polyurethane and silicone catheters used for intravascular access.

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  • 1Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Medical School, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.



Products containing alcohol are commonly used with intravascular devices at insertion, to remove lipids from occluded intravascular devices used during parenteral nutrition, and increasingly for the prevention and treatment of intravascular device-related bloodstream infection. The effects of alcohol on the integrity of intravascular devices remain unknown.


Two types of widely used commercial peripherally inserted central catheters, one made of polyetherurethane and one made of silicone, were exposed to a 70% ethanol lock solution for up to 10 weeks. Mechanical testing was performed to identify force-at-break, stress, strain, modulus of elasticity, modulus of toughness, and wall area of ethanol-exposed and control catheters.


No significant differences between exposed and unexposed catheters were identified for any of the mechanical parameters tested except for a marginal reduction in the modulus of elasticity for both polyetherurethane and silicone catheters and minor increases in the wall area of polyetherurethane catheters.


These data indicate that exposure to a 70% ethanol lock solution does not appreciably alter the integrity of selected commercial polyetherurethane and silicone catheters. Given the greatly expanded use of alcoholic solutions with intravascular devices of all types, we believe that manufacturers would be well advised to subject their catheters and other intravascular devices to formal testing of the type employed in this study.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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