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Effects of 70% Ethanol Locks on Rates of Central Line Infection, Thrombosis, Breakage, and Replacement in Pediatric Intestinal Failure

Abu-El-Haija, Maisam*; Schultz, Jonathan; Rahhal, Riad M.

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition: June 2014 - Volume 58 - Issue 6 - p 703–708
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000354
Original Articles: Hepatology and Nutrition

Objectives: Parenteral nutrition is essential for the growth and nutrition of patients with intestinal failure (IF). Catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSI) are a major complication of parenteral nutrition use. Few retrospective studies have shown that 70% ethanol lock (ETL) therapy for central lines can reduce the infection rate. Studies assessing line breakage, thrombosis, and replacement with the use of ETL are lacking in the pediatric literature.

Methods: The present study is a retrospective chart review, with a primary outcome of CRBSI rate per 1000 catheter days, and secondary outcomes of line thrombosis, line breakage requiring repair, and line replacement rates with use of ETL compared with heparin locks. Rates were compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test for paired nonparametric data.

Results: Seven patients satisfied the inclusion criteria that included having a single-lumen silicone central line exposed to both heparin and ETL therapy during the study period. There was a statistically significant decrease in overall and Gram-negative CRBSI rates per 1000 catheter days with a use of ETL therapy (10.3–1.4 per 1000 catheter days for overall CRBSIs, P = 0.02; 6.7–0 per 1000 catheter days for Gram-negative CRBSI, P = 0.03). There was an increasing trend in line thrombosis and repair rates with ETL therapy. Logistic regression analysis evaluating the impact of line luminal size on line repair rate showed a reduced risk of line repair when using larger-diameter central lines.

Conclusions: ETL therapy is an effective method for decreasing CRBSI in patients with IF; however, it may have a negative impact on line integrity. Patients should be carefully selected when deciding on ETL therapy use for central line care. Studies are needed on the effect of different ethanol concentrations on infection rate and line integrity to optimize the outcome in this high-risk population.

*Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

University of Iowa Roy J. & Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA

Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa Children's Hospital, Iowa City, IA.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Riad M. Rahhal, MD, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA (e-mail:

Received 14 May, 2013

Accepted 21 February, 2014

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 by European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition and North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,