Thrombosis of long-term central venous catheters (CVC) is a serious complication that causes morbidity and interrupts the infusion of chemotherapy, intravenous medication, and blood products. We performed a prospective study to examine the incidence, risk factors, and long-term complications of symptomatic catheter-related thrombosis (CRT) in adults with cancer.
Patients and Methods
Consecutive patients with cancer, undergoing insertion of a CVC, were enrolled and prospectively followed while their catheter remained in place plus 4 subsequent weeks or a maximum of 52 weeks, whichever came first. Patients with symptomatic CRT were followed for an additional 52 weeks from the date of CRT diagnosis. The end points were symptomatic CRT, symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE), postphlebitic syndrome, and catheter life span.
Over 76,713 patient-days of follow-up, 19 of 444 patients (4.3%) had symptomatic CRT in 19 of 500 catheters (0.3 per 1,000 catheter-days). The median time to CRT was 30 days and the median catheter life span was 88 days. Significant baseline risk factors for CRT were: more than one insertion attempt (odds ratio [OR] = 5.5; 95% CI, 1.2 to 24.6; P = .03); ovarian cancer (OR = 4.8; 95% CI, 1.5 to 15.1; P = .01); and previous CVC insertion (OR = 3.8; 95% CI, 1.4 to 10.4; P = .01). Nine of the 19 CRT patients were treated with anticoagulants alone, eight patients were treated with anticoagulants and catheter removal, while two patients did not receive anticoagulation. None had recurrent CRT or symptomatic PE. Postphlebitic symptoms were infrequent.
In adults with cancer, the incidence of symptomatic CRT is low and long-term complications are uncommon.