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BACKGROUND: Locking of central venous catheters with heparin is an accepted practice to maintain catheter patency between dialysis sessions. However, this practice may cause other adverse reactions. Although many studies suggest benefits of other catheter lock solutions over heparin on these grounds, no consensus has been reached for clinical practice.

METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed of randomized controlled trials (RCT) that compared antimicrobial-containing or citrate-alone catheter lock solutions with heparin alone in patients undergoing hemodialysis with central venous catheters. MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from EMBASE, and PubMed were searched for articles published through June 2014. The primary outcomes were catheter-related bacteremia (CRB) and catheter malfunction (CM). The secondary outcomes were bleeding, exit-site infection (ESI), clinical sepsis, and all-cause mortality.

RESULTS: Seventeen RCTs met the inclusion criteria. The meta-analysis showed that antimicrobial-containing and citrate-alone lock solutions were superior to heparin for preventing CRB (both P < 0.01). Although antimicrobial-containing lock solutions significantly affected clinical sepsis (P < 0.01), they did not affect ESI, bleeding, or all-cause mortality. Incidence of CM episodes was lower in patients receiving antibiotics + heparin and gentamicin + citrate (both P < 0.05), while other antimicrobial-containing and citrate-alone lock solutions showed no difference. Only citrate-alone lock solutions significantly decreased bleeding and ESI episodes (both P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Compared with heparin, antimicrobial-containing lock solutions more effectively prevent CRB and clinical sepsis. Antibiotics + heparin and gentamicin + citrate solutions showed better prevention of CM. Citrate-alone lock solutions result in fewer CRB, bleeding, and ESI episodes.


Liu, J., Wang, C., Zhao, H., Zhang, J., Ma, J., Hou, Y. and Zou, H. (2015) Anticoagulant agents for the prevention of hemodialysis catheter-related complications: systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective randomized controlled trials. International Urology and Nephrology. November 27th. .

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