Using needleless connector cultures to determine CRBSI


Our objective was to compare the yield of SC (skin + hub culture) with that of skin + NC culture in the assessment of CC and C-RBSI” Pérez-Granda et al (2016).


BACKGROUND: Superficial culture has a high negative predictive value in the assessment of catheter tip colonization (CC) and catheter-related bloodstream infection (C-RBSI). However, the process of hub culture requires the hubs to be swabbed, and this carries a risk of dislodging the biofilm. At present, most catheter hubs are closed by needleless connectors (NCs) that are periodically replaced. Our objective was to compare the yield of SC (skin + hub culture) with that of skin + NC culture in the assessment of CC and C-RBSI.

METHODS: During 5 months, we included the patients on the Major Heart Surgery ICU when a central venous catheter (CVC) remained in place ≥7 days after insertion. SCs were taken simultaneously when the NC was withdrawn and processed by the semi-quantitative method, even when the catheter was not removed. All catheter tips were cultured. All NCs belonging to a single catheter lumen were individually flushed with 100 μl of brain-heart infusion (BHI) broth. We considered the lumen to be colonized when ≥1 NC culture from the lumen flush was positive. We collected a total of 60 catheters.

RESULTS: The overall CC rate was 15.0 %, and we confirmed two episodes of C-RBSI. The validity values after the comparison of SCs with skin + NC culture for prediction of CC were the following: sensitivity 66.7 % vs. 77.8 %, and negative predictive value 93.6 % vs. 93.1 %. The sensitivity and negative predictive value for prediction of C-RBSI was 100 % for both SC and skin + NC culture.

CONCLUSION: The combination of skin and flushed NC culture can be an alternative to conventional SC for ruling out CC and C-RBSI.


Pérez-Granda, M.J., Guembe, M., Cruces, R. and Bouza, E. (2016) Vascular catheter colonization: surveillance based on culture of needleless connectors. Critical Care. 20(1), p.166.

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