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J Chemother. 2006 Jun;18(3):235-49.

Vascular catheter-associated infections: a microbiological and therapeutic update.

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  • 1Clinic of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medical and Morphological Research, Medical School, University of Udine, Italy.


The increasing incidence of central venous catheter (CVC)-related infections can be ascribed to the wider indications to central venous catheterization, to the higher attention to this issue paid by clinicians and microbiologists, and to the patient population referred to hospitals, increasingly characterized by different degrees of immunosuppression and often in critical clinical conditions. This phenomenon implies a higher health care burden and higher related costs, as well as a significant attributable mortality, that varies however according to the pathogen involved. The microorganisms most frequently involved in CVC-related infections are coagulase-negative staphylococci, Staphylococcus aureus, aerobic Gram-negative bacilli, and Candida albicans. In the management of suspected or proven central venous catheter-related infections, several issues need to be addressed: the need to remove the device or the possibility of salvage, the immediate start of calculated antibiotic therapy or the possibility of waiting for results of microbiological diagnostics and proceeding to etiologically-guided therapy. The preferred conservative method is the "Antibiotic-Lock technique" (ALT), based on the endoluminal application of antibacterials at extremely high concentrations in situ for a period of time long enough to ensure bactericidal activity. On the other hand, immediate catheter removal and initiation of appropriate calculated therapy immediately after an adequate diagnostic work-up are strongly recommended in a clinical setting of severe sepsis or septic shock.

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