Author(s): De Cicco M, Matovic M, Castellani GT, Basaglia G, Santini G,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Epidural infection represents a serious albeit infrequent complication of long-term epidural catheterization. The catheter hub is regarded as the main point of entry for microorganisms among the three possible routes (hematogenous, insertion site, hub) of microbial colonization of the inserted catheter. The current study was aimed at evaluating whether frequent changing of antimicrobial filters carries an increased risk of catheter hub contamination and the time-dependent efficacy of commonly used antimicrobial filters after prolonged use. METHODS: In the first part of the study, a microbiologic survey (skin, filter, hub, and catheter tip) was performed weekly in a group of 47 patients with cancer bearing subcutaneously tunneled catheters managed at home. Subsequently, the time-dependent efficacy of 96 micropore filters (32 Portex, 32 Sterifix-Braun, 32 Encapsulon TFX-Medical) differing in surface areas and/or composition of the filtering membrane was evaluated in a laboratory study. Filters were perfused, under the usual conditions of clinical use (flow resistance, injection pressure, temperature), every 8 h up to 60 days, with 5 ml of two different analgesic solutions, either sterile or containing 1.5 x 10(5)/ml of Streptococcus milleri I. Eight filters of each type subsequently were flushed with a S. milleri suspension (0.5 McFarland) after 7, 14, 28, and 60 days of continuous perfusion, and the resulting filtrates were cultured. RESULTS: In 16 of 19 positive hub cultures, the same microorganisms (species, biotype, antibiotype) were cultured from skin and filters. A statistically significant positive trend was found between the number of filter changes and the rate of positive hub cultures (chi 1(2) trend 5.11; P = 0.02). A high correlation coefficient was found between number of positive skin cultures and number of positive filtrates (r = 0.88; P = 0.01) and between number of positive filtrates and number of positive hub cultures (r = 0.93; P = 0.003). Cultures obtained from Portex and Sterifix-Braun filters yielded no bacterial growth (64/64) throughout the study period. Cultures from Encapsulon TFX-Medical filters showed bacterial growth 2/8 at seventh day, 7/8 at the 14th day, and 16/16 from the 28th day onward. CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate significant correlation between the incidence of catheter hub colonization and the filter-change frequency, when the skin close to the filter-hub connection is contaminated. Our results also show that Portex and Sterifix-Braun bacterial filters, when perfused with reduced volumes at low injection pressures, maintain an unmodified antimicrobial function for at least 60 days. Based on these data, it appears clinically feasible to reduce the frequency of filter changes during long-term epidural catheterization, with a consequent possible decrease of epidural catheter colonization.
This article was published in Anesthesiology
and referenced in Journal of Anesthesia & Clinical Research