Neutropenia following high-dose chemotherapy leads to a high incidence of infectious complications, of which central venous catheter-related infections predominate. Catheter-related infections and associated risk factors in 392 patients participating in a randomized adjuvant breast cancer trial and assigned to receive high-dose chemotherapy and peripheral stem-cell reinfusion were evaluated. Median catheter dwell time was 25 days (range 1-141). Catheter-related infections were seen in 28.3% of patients (11 infections per 1000 catheter-days). Coagulase-negative staphylococci were found in 104 of 186 positive blood cultures (56%). No systemic fungal infections occurred. Cox regression analysis showed that duration of neutropenia >10 days (P=0.04), using the catheter for both stem-cell apheresis and high-dose chemotherapy (P=<0.01), and use of total parenteral nutrition (TPN, P=0.04) were predictive for catheter-related infections. In conclusion, a high incidence of catheter-related infections after high-dose chemotherapy was seen related to duration of neutropenia, use of the catheter for both stem-cell apheresis and high-dose chemotherapy, and use of TPN. Selective use and choice of catheters could lead to a substantial reduction of catheter-related infectious complications.

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