Catheter-related bloodstream infections are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients. Current guidelines recommend that femoral venous access should be avoided to reduce this complication (1A recommendation). However, the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections from femoral as compared to subclavian and internal jugular venous catheterization has not been systematically reviewed.
A systematic review of the literature to determine the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections related to nontunneled central venous catheters inserted at the femoral site as compared to subclavian and internal jugular placement.
MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials, citation review of relevant primary and review articles, and an Internet search (Google).
Randomized controlled trials and cohort studies that reported the frequency of catheter-related bloodstream infections (infections per 1,000 catheter days) in patients with nontunneled central venous catheters placed in the femoral site as compared to subclavian or internal jugular placement.
Data were abstracted on study design, study size, study setting, patient population, number of catheters at each insertion site, number of catheter-related bloodstream infections, and the prevalence of deep venous thrombosis. Studies were subgrouped according to study design (cohort and randomized controlled trials). Meta-analytic techniques were used to summarize the data.
Two randomized controlled trials (1006 catheters) and 8 cohort (16,370 catheters) studies met the inclusion criteria for this systematic review. Three thousand two hundred thirty catheters were placed in the subclavian vein, 10,958 in the internal jugular and 3,188 in the femoral vein for a total of 113,652 catheter days. The average catheter-related bloodstream infections density was 2.5 per 1,000 catheter days (range 0.6–7.2). There was no significant difference in the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections between the femoral and subclavian/internal jugular sites in the two randomized controlled trials (i.e., no level 1A evidence). There was no significant difference in the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections between the femoral and subclavian sites. The internal jugular site was associated with a significantly lower risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections compared to the femoral site (risk ratio 1.90; 95% confidence interval 1.21–2.97, p = .005, I2 = 35%). This difference was explained by two of the studies that were statistical outliers. When these two studies were removed from the analysis there was no significant difference in the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections between the femoral and internal jugular sites (risk ratio 1.35; 95% confidence interval 0.84–2.19, p = 0.2, I2 = 0%). Meta-regression demonstrated a significant interaction between the risk of infection and the year of publication (p = .01), with the femoral site demonstrating a higher risk of infection in the earlier studies. There was no significant difference in the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infection between the subclavian and internal jugular sites. The risk of deep venous thrombosis was assessed in the two randomized controlled trials. A meta-analysis of this data demonstrates that there was no difference in the risk of deep venous thrombosis when the femoral site was compared to the subclavian and internal jugular sites combined. There was, however, significant heterogeneity between studies.
Although earlier studies showed a lower risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections when the internal jugular was compared to the femoral site, recent studies show no difference in the rate of catheter-related bloodstream infections between the three sites.
From the Divisions of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine (PEM) and General Internal Medicine (MF), Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA; and Welsh Healthcare Associated Infection Program (WH), Public Health Wales, Cardiff, Wales.
*See also p. 2528.
The authors have not disclosed any potential conflicts of interest.
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