Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections
A central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) is a serious infection. The infection happens in the bloodstream. It can affect those with a central line catheter. A central line catheter is a long tube inserted into a large vein. It is used to give:
- IV fluids
A central line catheter can be used to deliver chemotherapy.
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A CLABSI can lead to sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition.
A CLABSI is caused by bacteria getting on a central line catheter. From the catheter, they can get into the bloodstream. This can happen from bacteria that normally live on the skin.
Things that raise the risk of a CLABSI are:
- Severe illness
- Weak immune system
- An infection elsewhere
- Using a catheter for more than 48 hours
- Problems with the catheter
- A catheter that is not coated with an anti-germ substance
- A catheter inserted into a vein in the groin
CLABSI may cause:
- Fast heart rate
- Redness, swelling, or tenderness at the catheter site
- Drainage from the catheter site
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
- Blood tests and cultures
- Urine tests
- Sputum tests
Tests will confirm if there is bacteria.
The goal is to clear the infection. This involves:
- Antibiotics—medicines to treat the infection
- Central line care—often the catheter is removed and replaced with a new one
Proper catheter care and cleaning can help reduce the risk of a CLABSI.
- Catheter-related bloodstream infections. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/catheter-related-bloodstream-infection-crbsi.
- Central venous catheter. American Thoracic Society website. Available at: https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/central-venous-catheter.pdf.
- Central venous catheter. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/central-venous-catheter.
- FAQs: Catheter-associated bloodstream infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/bsi/BSI_tagged.pdf.
- Saugel, B., Scheeren, T.W.L., et al. Ultrasound-guided central venous catheter placement: a structured review and recommendations for clinical practice. Critical Care, 2017; 21 (1): 225.
- Nicole S. Meregian, PA
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