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Survival and Complications of Indwelling Venous Catheters for Permanent Use in Hemodialysis Patients


Dr. Willem Develter, Renal Division, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Ghent, Smidsestaat 204, Ghent 9000, Belgium. E-mail:


Abstract: Background: The risk factors influencing the survival of indwelling central vein catheters and their potential complications have not been assessed in depth and on a large scale. Methods: We investigated the general characteristics of 245 single lumen cuffed tunneled catheters and analyzed their survival by Kaplan–Meier and Cox regression analysis. Risk factors for bacteremia and thrombosis were assessed by logistic regression analysis. Results: The incidence of exit-site infection, tunnel infection, bacteremia and thrombotic events was 0.35, 0.25, 1.71, and 1.94/1000 catheter days, respectively. The mean survival time per catheter was 276 days. After censoring for non catheter-related events leading to the removal of the catheter (n = 245 with 120 catheters censored and 125 events), the mean survival time of the catheter appeared to be 615 ± 67 days (95% CI of 483–747) and the median survival time 310 ± 50 days (95% CI of 212–408). The localization of the catheter into the right internal jugular vein results in significantly better survival as compared with other insertion sites both in Kaplan–Meier (mean survival of 650 days compared to a mean survival of 519 days, P value < 0.009) and in Cox regression analysis (relative risk of 0.537, P value < 0.001). Localization of the catheter into the right internal jugular vein seemed to increase the risk for bacteremia (relative risk of 1.798, P value of 0.063). The use of anticoagulant agents was not protective for thrombosis, although this might be due to lack of power (relative risk of 0.626, P value of 0.141). Conclusion: We provide evidence of a mean survival in long-term hemodialysis catheter close to 2 years with an acceptable complication rate. If a long-term hemodialysis catheter is required, it is best placed in the right internal jugular vein.