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Treatment of intravascular catheter-related infections

Jeffrey D Band, MD, FACP, FIDSA
Section Editors
Anthony Harris, MD, MPH
Morven S Edwards, MD
Deputy Editor
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


Central venous catheter infections are common. In the United States, approximately 80,000 central venous catheter–related bloodstream infections occur in intensive care units each year [1,2]. In general, treatment of systemic intravenous catheter–related infection requires determination regarding catheter management (eg, salvage, exchange, or removal) and antibiotic therapy (eg, selection of empiric therapy with subsequent tailoring to culture and sensitivity data).

The treatment of intravascular catheter-related infections will be reviewed here. Issues related to hemodialysis catheters are discussed separately, as are issues related to prevention and diagnosis of catheter-related infections. (See "Tunneled, cuffed hemodialysis catheter-related bacteremia" and "Prevention of intravascular catheter-related infections" and "Diagnosis of intravascular catheter-related infections".)


The treatment guidelines discussed here apply to circumstances in which diagnostic criteria for catheter-related bloodstream infection (CRBSI) are met; these diagnostic criteria are discussed in detail separately (see "Diagnosis of intravascular catheter-related infections").

In general, systemic antibiotic therapy is NOT required in the following circumstances [1,3]:

Positive catheter tip culture in the absence of clinical signs of infection

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 26, 2016.
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