Central Venous Catheter Infections in Burn Patients with Scheduled Catheter Exchange and Replacement

Michael S. O'Mara, Nancy L. Reed, Tina L Palmieri, David G Greenhalgh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Introduction: Consensus in the general critical care patient population is that routine central venous catheter change is not necessary, and that central lines should not be rewired in the setting of possible infection. This concept has not carried over into the burn realm. In burn patients the rewiring of lines may lead to increased infection rates. Methods: Fifty-nine consecutive critically ill burn patients requiring central line placement were included: 277 central lines and 1691 catheter days. Standard care protocol was followed in all patients, with lines being placed initially by new site insertion, changed over a guidewire on day 6, and moved to a new site on day 12. New sites were used for all suspected or documented line infections. All other care was the same. New site placements were compared to guidewire exchanges. Pediatric patients (under the age of 18) were considered with and separate from adults. Results: There was no difference in the incidence of catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSI) between lines placed by new site access (15.4/1000 catheter days) or by guidewire exchange (15.4/1000). Considering the 979 pediatric line days, there was a distinct difference, with new sites having 16.6/1000, and rewires 25.2/1000. Adults revealed the opposite trend, rewires having no occurrences of CRBSI, and new sites 13.7/1000. Children had a higher rate of CRBSI, 19.4/1000 days, compared to adults at 9.8/1000 days. Children had larger burns (P < 0.0001), more femoral lines (P = 0.0003), and lines closer to the burn wound (P = 0.001). Conclusions: In pediatric patients guidewire exchange increased the incidence of infection. This was not noted in adult patients. The utility of guidewire exchange needs to be further investigated in adults, although this data would imply that it may be safe to use routine rewire of lines in adult burn patients. Pediatric patients require an increase in vigilance to minimize CRBSI. Central venous catheters should be removed as soon as not needed and routine change of lines in burn patients needs continued evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • burn
  • catheter-related blood stream infection
  • central line
  • central venous catheter
  • complication
  • guidewire
  • infection
  • pediatric
  • rewire
  • scheduled change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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