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Medicine (Baltimore). 1984 Jul;63(4):189-200.

Hickman catheter infections in patients with malignancies.


The infectious complications associated with implantation of 1,088 Hickman catheters (HCs) in 992 patients reported in 18 published series are presented (including data on 129 previously unreported HCs from our own institution). HCs allow reliable long-term venous access (mean, 92.4 days) with low complication and infection rates (0.30 and 0.14 cases per 100 catheter days, respectively). Exit site infections were the most common form of infection encountered (45.5%), followed by septicemia alone (30.8%), tunnel infections (20.3%), and septic thrombophlebitis (3.5%). Staphylococcus epidermidis (54.1%) and S. aureus (20.0%) were the most common pathogens responsible for catheter infections. HC infections were associated with a low mortality rate (maximum rate of 0.5%). Risk factor analysis of 129 HCs demonstrated that catheter thrombosis was the major risk factor associated with development of catheter infection. Presence of fever, distant infection, neutropenia or antibiotic administration on the day of catheter insertion was not significantly associated with HC infection in this series (although there was a trend suggesting an increased risk of infection of HCs inserted during febrile episodes). Based on observations at our institution and from a review of the literature, tentative recommendations for management of the various types of HC infections are outlined.

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