Complications of indwelling venous access devices in cancer patients

Brian J. Eastridge, Alan T. Lefor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


Purpose: We undertook this study to review our experience with indwelling vascular access devices in cancer patients to identify factors associated with complications. Patients and Methods: A total of 322 indwelling devices were placed in 274 cancer patients by a single surgeon. Devices were placed via percutaneous insertion in 72% (231 of 322) and via venous cutdown in 28% (91 of 322). We placed external catheters in 209 of 322 patients (65%) and subcutaneous infusion ports in 113 of 322 (35%). Results: Pneumothorax occurred in four of 231 (1.7%) of the percutaneously placed devices. Postoperative complications included sepsis and thrombosis, which necessitated premature removal of the devices. Device-related sepsis occurred in 28 of 209 patients (13%) with catheters and six of 113 patients (5%) with subcutaneous ports. Thrombosis occurred in 21 of 209 patients (10%) with catheters and seven of 113 (6%) with subcutaneous ports. In 15 of 19 devices removed for thrombosis, the tip was above the T3 level. Seventeen devices were placed in the saphenous vein, with a complication rate similar to that observed in upper-body devices. Conclusion: We found a significantly (P < .05, χ2 analysis) increased incidence of thrombotic complications in patients with triple-lumen catheters (10 of 48) compared with double-lumen catheters (11 of 160), as well as a significantly (P < .05) decreased mean time until catheter failure (40 v 146 days). We also observed a significant increase in the rate of thrombosis in patients with a catheter tip above the T3 level. We therefore recommend the use of fluoroscopy at the time of placement to assure adequate catheter length and tip position and the use of triple-lumen catheters only when necessary for concurrent drug administration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-238
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Complications of indwelling venous access devices in cancer patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this