Background The prevention of central venous catheter (CVC) associated bloodstream infections (CABSIs) in paediatric oncology patients is essential. Ethanol locks can eliminate pathogens colonising CVCs and microbial resistance is rare. Aim of this study was to determine whether two hour 70% ethanol locks can reduce CABSI in paediatric oncology patients. Methods We conducted a randomised, double blind, multi-centre trial in paediatric oncology patients (1-18 years) with newly inserted CVCs. Patients were randomly assigned to receive two hour ethanol locks (1.5 or 3 ml 70%) or heparin locks (1.5 or 3 ml 100 IU/ml), whenever it was needed to use the CVC, maximum frequency once weekly. Primary outcomes were time to CABSI or death due to CABSI. Results We recruited 307 patients (ethanol, n = 153; heparin, n = 154). In the ethanol group, 16/153 (10%) patients developed a CABSI versus 29/154 (19%) in the heparin group. The incidence of CABSI was 0.77/1000 and 1.46/1000 catheter days respectively (p = 0.039). The number-needed-to-treat was 13. No patients died of CABSI. In particular, Gram-positive CABSIs were reduced (ethanol, n = 8; heparin, n = 21; p = 0.012). Fewer CVCs were removed because of CABSI in the ethanol group (p = 0.077). The ethanol lock patients experienced significantly more transient symptoms compared to the heparin lock patients (maximum grade 2) (nausea, p = 0.030; taste alteration, p < 0.001; dizziness, p = 0.001; blushing, p < 0.001), no suspected unexpected serious adverse reactions (SUSAR) occurred. Conclusions This is the first randomised controlled trial to show that ethanol locks can prevent CABSI in paediatric oncology patients, in particular CABSI caused by Gram-positive bacteria. Implementation of ethanol locks in clinical practice should be considered.

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European Journal of Cancer
Department of Pediatrics

Schoot, R. A., van Ommen, H., Stijnen, T., Tissing, W., Michiels, E., Abbink, F., … Van De Wetering, M. D. (2015). Prevention of central venous catheter-associated bloodstream infections in paediatric oncology patients using 70% ethanol locks: A randomised controlled multi-centre trial. European Journal of Cancer, 51(14), 2031–2038. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2015.06.126