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Central venous catheters revisited - infection rates and an assessment of the new Fibrin Analysing System brush


Sixty-one consecutive patients in the Intensive Care Unit requiring central venous lines (CVC) for five or more days were randomized to receive either a standard triple lumen CVC (STD/CVC) or a silver sulphadiazine and chlorhexidine impregnated CVC (SSD/CVC). Data from the 54 patients who completed the trial show a reduced infection rate (positive tip culture) in the SSD/CVC group (4 out of 28) compared to the STD/CVC group (10 out of 26) (P <0.05).

In addition, the new Fibrin Analysing System (FAS) brush was evaluated and used to determine the presence of infection in all the CVCs (STD/CVC and SSD/CVC combined, n =54) at day 3 (i.e. early warning of CVC colonization/infection) and at the time of removal of the CVC. The FAS brush was able to detect an infected CVC on only one occasion on day 3 out of the 14 CVC tips which were later found to be colonized/infected at the time of removal. The sensitivity of the FASbrush in detecting colonized/infected CVCs at the time of CVC removal compared with CVC tip culture was 21% with a specificity of 100%. These findings would currently not support the routine use of the FAS brush in determining CVC infection/colonization.

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