Broviac catheter sepsis: The natural history of an iatrogenic infection

Denis R. King, Michael Komer, Janette Hoffman, Margaret E. Ginn-Pease, Mark E. Stanley, Dwight Powell, Richard P. Harmel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Between January 1982 and December 1983, 335 Broviac catheters placed in 270 infants and children were prospectively evaluated. The average duration of catheter life was 99.7 days, yielding a total accumulated experience of 33,394 catheter days. Blood culture-proven bacteremia occurred on 77 occasions (23%), an average of one spetic episode for every 434 days of catheter use. Temperature elevation was the only consistent clinical sign of infection occurring in 91% of the children. White blood cell counts remained within the normal range in the majority of patients. The differential counts were most helpful, however, documenting a significant increase in the number of immature neutrophils. The rise in band forms was frequently observed 24 to 48 hours before the onset of clinically evident sepsis. Platelet counts did not change significantly. Eighty-eight microorganisms were identified on blood culture. Eighty-three bacterial isolates were recovered (94%) and five fungi. The vast majority of patients (86%) had a single organism on blood culture but polymicrobial sepsis was observed on 11 occasions. Staphylococcus sp (38%) and Streptococcus sp (25%) species were most common. Of particular importance 48% of coagulase negative staphylococci were nafcillin-resistant. Of the gram negative bacteria, Klebsiella (10%) and Pseudomonas (6%) species were most frequent. In 53 patients, antibiotic therapy was administered in an attempt to salvage the catheter. Bacteremia was controlled successfully in 39 (74%), and in the other 14 children, persistent sepsis dictated catheter removal. One patients (0.4%) died as a result of catheter-related sepsis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)728-733
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1985


  • Catheter sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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