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Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2007 Sep;19(7):551-6. Epub 2007 May 22.

A comparison of Hickman line- and Port-a-Cath-associated complications in patients with solid tumours undergoing chemotherapy.

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Academic Department of Oncology, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Rowland Hill Street, London, UK.



To compare the complication rates of Hickman lines and Port-a-Caths in patients undergoing infusional chemotherapy for solid tumours.


A single institution retrospective analysis comparing complication rates for 30 Hickman lines and 33 Port-a-Caths inserted for chemotherapy in adults with solid tumours was carried out.


Patients were well matched in terms of primary site and chemotherapy regimen. In both cases, over 85% were inserted radiologically under local anaesthetic. The total time in situ for Hickman lines and Port-a-Caths was 3539 days (median 83, range 6-585) and 5783 days (median 158, range 20-456), respectively. The complication rate for Hickman lines was 5.09/1000 catheter days, almost five times that for Port-a-Caths, with 1.04/1000 catheter days, a relative risk of 4.9 (confidence interval: 1.9-15.1, P=0.0003). Most (73%) complications occurred within 4 weeks of insertion. However, some arose much later: the range of time to complication was 1-304 days for Hickman lines and 1-132 days for Port-a-Caths. Infection was the most common complication, accounting for nine of 18 Hickman line complications and five of six Port-a-Cath complications, giving an overall infection rate of 2.54/1000 catheter days and 0.86/1000 catheter days, respectively. Additionally, Hickman lines had a 26% leakage rate or displacement rate, which did not occur at all in the Port-a-Cath group. Complications required the removal of 16 Hickman lines and five Port-a-Caths. The rate of removal was five times higher for Hickman lines (Hickman lines=4.52/1000 catheter days, Port-a-Caths=0.86/1000 catheter days, P=0.0027). Overall, the cost of Port-a-Caths was less than that of Hickman lines.


In this study, Port-a-Caths were shown to be both safer and cheaper than Hickman lines for patients requiring infusional chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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