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High rate of complications associated with peripherally inserted central venous catheters in patients with solid tumours

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Abstract Background

: Peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC) have been used extensively as a cost-effective and safe form of medium-term intravascular access. There are only limited data about complications of PICC lines in oncology patients despite theoretical concerns about the higher risks of complications in these patients as a result of cancer itself and cancer therapy. Aims

: To document the frequency and type of PICC complications in patients with solid tumours. Methods

: All patients with solid tumours who were treated at Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia between January 2000 and March 2001 were included in a retrospective review of PICC complications. Results

: Twenty-seven PICC lines were inserted in 17 patients; 40.7% (11/27) of PICC lines developed complications requiring early removal of the PICC. Complications encountered were sepsis (systemic and cellulitis), thrombosis, blockage and leakage. Septic complications were found at a rate of 8/1000 PICC days or 25.7% (7/27) of PICC inserted. The median dwell time was 20 days. The mean time for a complication to occur was 27.5 days. Conclusions

: The present study demonstrates a high rate of complications, which is higher than the complication rates reported in studies of non-oncology patients. PICC lines should be used with caution in patients with solid tumours. Prospective studies of the factors influencing the incidence of complications might be warranted. (Intern Med J 2004; 34: 234−238)
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Keywords: central venous catheters; chemotherapy; peripherally inserted central catheter lines; vascular access device

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Royal Adelaide Hospital and 2: Gershenson Radiation Oncology Center, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA 3: Department of Oncology, Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia and

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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