Tunneling short-term central venous catheters to prevent catheter-related infection Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of tunneling short-term central venous catheters to prevent catheter-related infections. DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, EMBASE, conference proceedings, citation review of relevant primary and review articles, personal files, and contact with expert informants. STUDY SELECTION: From a pool of 225 randomized, controlled trials of venous and arterial catheter management, we identified 12 relevant trials and included seven of these trials in the analysis. DATA EXTRACTION: In duplicate, independently, we abstracted data on the population, intervention, outcomes, and methodologic quality. DATA SYNTHESIS: Tunneling decreased bacterial colonization of the catheter by 39% (relative risk of 0.61; 95% confidence interval [CI] of 0.39 to 0.95) and decreased catheter-related sepsis with bacteriologic confirmation by 44% (relative risk of 0.56; 95% CI of 0.31 to 1) in comparison with standard placement. The majority of the benefit in the decreased rate of catheter-sepsis came from one trial at the internal jugular site (relative risk of 0.30, 95% CI of 0.10 to 0.89) and the reduction in risk was not significant when the data from five subclavian catheter trials were pooled (relative risk of 0.71, 95% CI of 0.36 to 1.43). Tunneling was not associated with increased risk of mechanical complications from placement or technical difficulties during placement. However, this outcome was not rigorously evaluated. CONCLUSIONS: Tunneling decreases central venous catheter-related infections. However, current evidence does not support routine tunneling until its efficacy is evaluated at different placement sites and relative to other interventions.


  • Randolph, Adrienne G
  • Cook, Deborah
  • Gonzales, Calle A
  • Brun-Buisson, Christian

publication date

  • August 1998