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Support Care Cancer. 2015 Feb;23(2):403-9. doi: 10.1007/s00520-014-2387-9. Epub 2014 Aug 14.

Peripherally inserted central catheters in non-hospitalized cancer patients: 5-year results of a prospective study.

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Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Unit of Parenteral Nutrition in Oncology, Department of Medicine, S. Giovanni Battista Hospital, University of Turin, Via Giovanni Giolitti 9, 10123, Turin, Italy,



Few prospective follow-up studies evaluating the use of peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) to deliver chemotherapy and/or home parenteral nutrition (HPN) have focused exclusively on oncology outpatients. The aim of this prospective study was to assess the reliability and the safety of PICCs over a 5-year use in non-hospitalized cancer patients requiring long-term intravenous therapies.


Since June 2008, all adult oncology outpatient candidates for PICC insertion were consecutively enrolled and the incidence of catheter-related complications was investigated. The follow-up continued until the PICC removal.


Two hundred sixty-nine PICCs in 250 patients (98 % with solid malignancies) were studied, for a total of 55,293 catheter days (median dwell time 184 days, range 15-1,384). All patients received HPN and 71 % received chemotherapy during the study period. The incidence of catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs) was low (0.05 per 1,000 catheter days), PICC-related symptomatic thrombosis was rare (1.1 %; 0.05 per 1,000 catheter days), and mechanical complications were uncommon (13.1 %; 0.63 per 1,000 catheter days). The overall complication rate was 17.5 % (0.85 per 1,000 catheter days) and PICCs were removed because of complications only in 7 % of cases. The main findings of this study were that, if accurately managed, PICCs can be safely used in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and/or HPN, recording a low incidence of CRBSI, thrombosis, and mechanical complications; a long catheter life span; and a low probability of catheter removal because of complications.


Our study suggests that PICCs can be successfully utilized as safe and long-lasting venous access devices in non-hospitalized cancer patients.

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