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How to deal with dialysis catheters in the ICU setting

Natacha Mrozek12*, Alexandre Lautrette12, Jean-François Timsit34 and Bertrand Souweine12

Author Affiliations

1 Réanimation médicale, Hôpital Gabriel Montpied CHU-Clermont-Ferrand, Clermont Ferrand, 63000, France

2 UMR CNRS 6023, Laboratoire Microorganismes: Génome et Environnement, Clermont Université, Université d'Auvergne, Clermont Ferrand, 63000, France

3 Medical Polyvalent Intensive Care Unit, University Joseph Fourier, Albert Michallon Hospital, BP 217, Grenoble Cedex 9, 38043, France

4 University Joseph Fourier, EA U823, Albert Bonniot Institute, La Tronche Cedex, 38706, France

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Annals of Intensive Care 2012, 2:48  doi:10.1186/2110-5820-2-48

Published: 23 November 2012


Acute kidney insufficiency (AKI) occurs frequently in intensive care units (ICU). In the management of vascular access for renal replacement therapy (RRT), several factors need to be taken into consideration to achieve an optimal RRT dose and to limit complications. In the medium and long term, some individuals may become chronic dialysis patients and so preserving the vascular network is of major importance. Few studies have focused on the use of dialysis catheters (DC) in ICUs, and clinical practice is driven by the knowledge and management of long-term dialysis catheter in chronic dialysis patients and of central venous catheter in ICU patients. This review describes the appropriate use and management of DCs required to obtain an accurate RRT dose and to reduce mechanical and infectious complications in the ICU setting. To deliver the best RRT dose, the length and diameter of the catheter need to be sufficient. In patients on intermittent hemodialysis, the right internal jugular insertion is associated with a higher delivered dialysis dose if the prescribed extracorporeal blood flow is higher than 200 ml/min. To prevent DC colonization, the physician has to be vigilant for the jugular position when BMI < 24 and the femoral position when BMI > 28. Subclavian sites should be excluded. Ultrasound guidance should be used especially in jugular sites. Antibiotic-impregnated dialysis catheters and antibiotic locks are not recommended in routine practice. The efficacy of ethanol and citrate locks has yet to be demonstrated. Hygiene procedures must be respected during DC insertion and manipulation.

Dialysis catheter; Intensive care unit; Catheter dysfunction; Catheter infection