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J Hosp Infect. 1997 Jul;36(3):181-9.

The potential for catheter microbial contamination from a needleless connector.

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Department of Clinical Microbiology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.


Needleless connectors have been widely introduced into clinical practice to allow the connection of syringes and luers to peripheral and central vascular catheters. The potential for microbial contamination of catheters via these devices is currently unclear. A recently introduced connector, the 'Connecta Clave', was assessed by various in-vitro methods. The 'Connecta Clave' is specifically devised to separate external components from the fluid pathway. The compression seals of 50 devices were contaminated with 1 x 10(4) cfu Staphylococcus epidermidis, disinfected with isopropanol, and fluid passed through. Only one device allowed organisms to pass through, despite this challenge, representing a contamination rate of 2%. In comparison, when 50 connectors were challenged with 20 cfu of S. epidermidis, no organisms passed through the device during use. In the clinical situation, after manipulation, < 16 cfu of skin organisms were found associated with the compression seal of the devices. It is, therefore, likely that the contamination rates in clinical practice will be extremely low. Three methods of disinfecting the compression seals and associated rims were also evaluated. A combination of alcohol chlorhexidine spray, followed by a 70% isopropanol swab, resulted in the most efficacious disinfection. The isopropanol swabs produced an adequate disinfection rate. The overall results suggest that by use of specially designed connectors, not only are needlestick injuries reduced, but the likelihood of microbial contamination of catheters via the internal route may also be diminished.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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