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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 medicine, nutrition, IV fluids, and chemotherapy.
|Chemotherapy In the Bloodstream|
|A central line catheter can be used to deliver chemotherapy.|
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A CLABSI can lead to sepsis. Sepsis is life-threatening condition.
A CLABSI is caused when bacteria gets 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
- Long time use of a catheter (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 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, removing the catheter and replacing it with a new one
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Society of Critical Care Medicine
Canadian Patient Safety Institute
Catheter-related bloodstream infections. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/catheter-related-bloodstream-infection-crbsi. Accessed September 2, 2021.
Central venous catheter. American Thoracic Society website. Available at: https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/central-venous-catheter.pdf. Accessed September 2, 2021.
Central venous catheter. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/central-venous-catheter. Accessed September 2, 2021.
FAQs: Catheter-associated bloodstream infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/bsi/BSI%5Ftagged.pdf. Accessed September 2, 2021.
Saugel B, Scheeren TWL, et al. Ultrasound-guided central venous catheter placement: a structured review and recommendations for clinical practice. Crit Care. 2017;21(1):225.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Nicole Meregian, PA
- Review Date: 07/2021
- Update Date: 09/02/2021