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Arterial catheter-related infections in the intensive care unit: prospective study during 1 year


Peripheral arterial catheters (PAC) are usually inserted into the radial or femoral artery and permit continuous blood pressure monitoring and blood gas measurements. There are no recommendations concerning change for arterial catheters.


To estimate the incidence of the arterial catheter-related infections (ACRI) and to identify the associated risk factors.

Materials and methods

It is a prospective study, performed between December 2001 and November 2002. We realize a culture of the hub of stopcock. After removal, the tip of the catheter was systematically cultured using a quantitative culture technique and we realize a simultaneous bloodstream by venipuncture.


One hundred successive PAC are studied (77 radial and 23 femoral) in 70 patients with mean age 48 ± 18 years, sex ratio = 1.5, SAPS II = 42 ± 17, APACHE II = 20 ± 10, McCabe = 0.95 ± 0.9, OSF = 2.7 ± 1. The mean duration of cannulation was 7.3 days. Twelve are contaminated (< 103 CFU/ml), two colonized (> 103 CFU/ml). The rate of catheter-related sepsis is three of 100, and that of catheter-related bacteraemia is two of 100. Risk factors retained are: duration of catheterization (additional risk is multiplied by 4.33 in passing from 1–5 days to 6–10 days), length of stay in ICU (> 28 days), and positive culture of the hub of stopcock (sensibility = 100%, specificity = 82%, positive predictive value = 22% and negative predictive value = 100%).


Peripheral arterial catheters can be accessed several times per day for haemodynamic measurement or to obtain samples for laboratory analysis, increasing the potential for contamination and subsequent clinical infection. The following three risk factors for catheter-related infections were identified: duration of catheterization, length of stay in ICU and manipulation of the stopcock.


The ACRI are not frequent. Their arising is bound to the duration of catheterization with an increase of the risk of colonization after 5 days. A positive culture of stopcock may indicate the removal or the change of APC.

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Abdellatif, S., Ksouri, H., Nasri, R. et al. Arterial catheter-related infections in the intensive care unit: prospective study during 1 year. Crit Care 7, P117 (2003).

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  • Femoral Artery
  • Clinical Infection
  • Positive Culture
  • Blood Pressure Monitoring
  • Associate Risk Factor