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A Prospective Double-Blind Randomized Trial of Urokinase Flushes to Prevent Bacteremia Resulting From Luminal Colonization of Subcutaneous Central Venous Catheters

Aquino, Victor M. M.D.; Sandler, Eric S. M.D.; Mustafa, Mahmoud M. M.D.; Steele, Jill W. R.N.; Buchanan, George R. M.D.

Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology: December 2002 - Volume 24 - Issue 9 - p 710-713

Purpose This study was undertaken to determine if central venous catheter (CVC)-related infection in children with cancer could be prevented by monthly flushing of the catheter with urokinase.

Patients and Methods Between August 1994 and July 1998, 103 patients with cancer were randomized at the time of subcutaneous CVC placement to receive monthly flushing of their catheters with either 5000 IU of urokinase–heparin or heparin alone. Patients subsequently had blood cultures taken from their CVCs during an episode of fever.

Results Seventy-four of the 103 patients (72%) enrolled in the study received at least 6 catheter flushes: 40 with urokinase–heparin and 34 with heparin. The median number of flushes was 9.5 in the urokinase–heparin group and 10.2 in the heparin-only group (P = 0.62). There were 5 positive blood cultures in the urokinase–heparin group and seven in patients receiving heparin alone (P = 0.27). Staphylococcus epidermidis was isolated from the blood of 3 patients receiving urokinase–heparin and 6 in those receiving heparin alone (P = 0.17).

Conclusion Prophylactic monthly catheter flushes with 5000 IU urokinase did not significantly decrease the number of documented bacteremic events in children with cancer who have CVCs.

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas and the Children's Medical Center of Dallas, Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.

Submitted for publication February 15, 2002; accepted May 1, 2002.

This work was supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Abbott Laboratories, National Institutes of Health T32 Training Grant #CA09640, the Children's Cancer Fund of Dallas, and Wipe Out Kids' Cancer.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Victor M. Aquino, M. D., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75390–9063 U.S.A. E-mail:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.