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Retrospective Analysis of Catheter-Related Infections in a Hemodialysis Unit

  • Linda A. Colville (a1) and Andy H. Lee (a1)



To compare the incidence rates of catheter-related bloodstream infection associated with different vascular access methods in patients receiving hemodialysis.


Tertiary care public hospital in Western Australia.


Retrospective analysis of surveillance data collected by the hospital's infection control department.


The number of confirmed bloodstream infections for each type of vascular access was identified for the period from July 2002 through June 2003. The corresponding number of patient-days was determined to calculate the infection incidence rates. The serially correlated data were then analyzed using Poisson generalized estimating equations.


A total of 32 confirmed bloodstream infections were identified. Infection rates, in number of infections per 1,000 patient-days, were as follows: 0.4 for native arteriovenous fistulae; 2.86 for synthetic arteriovenous grafts; 4.02 for permanent, tunneled, cuffed central venous catheters; and 20.2 for temporary, nontunneled, noncuffed central venous catheters. Compared with permanent catheters, the monthly infection rate associated with the temporary catheters was significantly higher (incident rate ratio [IRR], 5.025 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.532-16.484]; P = .008) and that of arteriovenous fistulae was significantly lower (IRR, 0.099 [95% CI, 0.030-0.324]; P = .001). The monthly infection rate for arteriovenous grafts was not significantly different from that for permanent central venous catheters (IRR, 0.702 [95% CI, 0.246-2.008]; P = .510).


A hierarchy of infection risk associated with vascular access type is evident. Native arteriovenous fistulae should be recommended for all patients receiving chronic hemodialysis, to minimize infection.


Corresponding author

Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U 1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia, (


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