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Purpose: Antibiotic locks in catheter-dependent chronic hemodialysis patients reduce the rate of catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSIs), but may be associated with the development of resistant bacteria. Ethanol-based catheter locks may provide a better alternative; however, there are limited data on the long-term integrity of dialysis catheters exposed to ethanol.

Methods: We performed in vitro testing of two types of hemodialysis catheters—silicone (SLC) and carbothane (CBT) based—with a 70% ethanol lock (EL) versus heparin lock (HL) for 26 weeks. Lock solutions were changed thrice weekly to mimic a conventional hemodialysis schedule. We tested mechanical properties of the catheters at 0, 13 and 26 weeks by examining stress/strain relationships (SS400%) and modulus of elasticity (ME). Electron microscopy was performed to examine catheter ultrastructure at 0 and 26 weeks.

Results: Catheter integrity for HL versus EL in SLC (SS400%: 4.5 vs. 4.5 MPa, p = NS; ME: 4.6 vs. 4.7 MPa, p = NS) or CBT-based catheters (SS400%: 7.6 vs. 8.9 MPa, p = NS; ME: 9.6 vs. 12.2 MPa, p = NS) were all similar at 13 and 26 weeks. Scanning electron microscopy revealed no structural changes in the central and luminal wall internal surfaces of EL- versus HL-treated catheters.

Conclusions: There were no significant differences in catheter integrity between SLC or CBT catheters exposed to a 70% EL for 26 weeks. Given its low cost, potential to avoid antibiotic resistance and structural integrity after 6 months of high-dose ethanol, ELs should be studied prospectively against antibiotic locks to assess the efficacy and safety in hemodialysis patients.


Landry, D.L., Jaber, R.A., Hanumanthappa, N., Lipkowitz, G.S., O’Shea, M.H., Bermudez, H., Hathorne, A.P. and Braden, G.L. (2015) Effects of prolonged ethanol lock exposure to carbothane- and silicone-based hemodialysis catheters: a 26-week study. The journal of Vascular Access. 16(5), p.367-371.

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