Infection of vascular catheters is the most severe complication associated with their use. The reported incidence of central venous catheter infections is about 3–7%; this figure is somewhat lower for implantable long-term catheters. In the aetiology, adherence of microorganisms to the catheter surface is an essential pathogenic factor. Coagulase-negative staphylococci and Staphylococcus aureus are the predominant causative organisms, followed by Gram-negative bacteria and fungi. A number of novel pathogens have been identified as causative agents in catheter infections, particularly in immunocompromised patients, and it is expected that still more new pathogens will be discovered in the future. Prevention is of paramount importance because of the difficulties in diagnosis and therapy of vascular catheter-related infections. New approaches, such as coating of catheters with antimicrobial substances or use of catheter materials with anti-adhesive properties, have been introduced and seem to be promising for future use. Until such products are available, the best strategies to prevent vascular catheter-related infections involve strict hygiene measures during and after insertion of a catheter and minimization of catheter manipulation.
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