Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections

A central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream through a central line catheter . A central line catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted through a vein until it reaches a larger vein close to the heart. It is used to deliver medication, nutrition, IV fluids, and chemotherapy . If bacteria start to grow on the central line catheter, they can easily enter the blood and cause a serious infection. This can lead to a condition called sepsis , which occurs when bacteria overwhelm the body.

  • Causes

    Bacteria normally live on the skin. These bacteria will sometimes track along the outside of the catheter. From the catheter, they can get into the bloodstream.

  • Definition


    A central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream through a
    central line catheter
    . A central line catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted through a vein until it reaches a larger vein close to the heart. It is used to deliver medication, nutrition, IV fluids, and
    chemotherapy
    .

    Chemotherapy Through the Bloodstream
    Chemotherapy

    A central line catheter can be used to deliver
    chemotherapy
    .
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


    If bacteria start to grow on the central line catheter, they can easily enter the blood and cause a serious infection. This can lead to a condition called
    sepsis
    , which occurs when bacteria overwhelm the body.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:

    • Blood tests and cultures
    • Urine tests
    • Sputum
      tests


    Your heart may need to be viewed. This can be done with
    echocardiogram
    .

  • Prevention

  • Risk Factors

    These factors increase your chance of developing a CLABSI:

    • Having a catheter for a long time
    • Having a catheter that is not coated with an antimicrobial—a substance that kills bacteria
    • Having a catheter inserted into a vein in the thigh
    • Having a weakened immune system
    • Being in the intensive care unit
    • Having an infection elsewhere in the body or skin

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms of CLABSI may include:

    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Fast heart rate
    • Redness, swelling, or tenderness at the catheter site
    • Drainage from catheter site

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

    • Antibiotics—Antibiotics are medications used to treat an infection. The kind of antibiotic you will be given depends on which bacteria is found in your blood.
    • Central line care—Often, the central line catheter will need to be removed and replaced by a new catheter.