Alteplase use for malfunctioning central venous catheters correlates with catheter-associated bloodstream infections

Courtney M. Rowan, Kathryn E. Miller, Andrew L. Beardsley, Sheikh S. Ahmed, Luis A. Rojas, Terri L. Hedlund, Richard H. Speicher, Mara E. Nitu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: A catheter thrombosis and the presence of a catheter-associated bloodstream infection (CBSI) often occur simultaneously, but it is unclear if or to what degree the two complications relate. Several animal and adult studies indicate a relationship between fibrin sheaths and thrombi in the development of CBSIs. To date, there has been limited human investigation in the pediatric population to determine a clear link between the presence of a thrombus and bacteremia. The use of alteplase for malfunctioning central venous catheter may indicate the formation of intraluminal thrombus or fibrin sheath. A catheter that requires alteplase is at higher risk of a CBSI. Design: A retrospective chart review from July 2008 to December 2010. Setting: PICU. Patients: All patients with central catheters admitted to the PICU. Interventions: No interventions performed with the retrospective study. MEASUREMENTS:: Number of total central venous catheters, number of central venous catheters that received treatment with alteplase, and number of CBSIs. MAIN RESULTS:: Preliminary data during the study period identified 3,289 central venous catheters. Twelve percent of these catheters required at least one dose of alteplase. There were 40 CBSIs during this same time period of which 28% received alteplase during the 5 days preceding the positive blood culture. The odds ratio for getting a CBSI when alteplase is administered is 2.87 (confidence interval 1.42-5.80; p = 0.002). The average age of the central venous catheters at time of infection was not statistically different, 16.1 days in the alteplase catheters compared with 25.6 days for the catheters that did not receive alteplase (p = 0.6). Conclusions: There is a positive correlation between the use of alteplase for malfunctioning central venous catheters and the development of a CASBI. This is likely associated with the presence of an intraluminal fibrin sheath or thrombus. This study adds evidence linking thrombus formation to CBSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-309
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • catheter-related infections
  • central venous catheterization
  • central venous thrombosis
  • pediatrics
  • quality improvement
  • tissue plasminogen activator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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