Central line-related sepsis in acute burn patients

Joseph M. Still, Edward Law, Dharma S Thiruvaiyaru, Keith Belcher, Keith Donker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


A retrospective review of all 443 burn patients admitted during a 13- month period from October 1, 1992 to October 31, 1993, was completed. Of these, 8 were transferred and eliminated from the study. Twenty-two patients who were felt to be terminal on admission and did not have blood cultures were included in the demographic data but were excluded from subsequent statistical analysis. One hundred ten patients had central venous lines (CVLs). Three patients with CVLs were transferred, thus leaving 107 patients with CVLs for statistical analysis. Additionally, 17 of the aforementioned terminal patients who had CVLs and 1 patient with a CVL who had documented sepsis before CVL insertion were excluded, leaving 89 patients with CVLs used in statistical analysis. Mean burn surface for those with central lines was 35.8 per cent, and for those without, 10.9 per cent. Sixty-four patients (59.8%) with a central line had inhalation injuries, as did 18 patients (5.5%) without. The number of lines per patient varied from 1 to 7. Sixty- one patients had one line, 46 had more than one. The total number of central line days for the entire group was 1749. The mean number of central line days per patient was 16.3. The mean number of line days per catheter was 8.48. The mortality rate for the 107 patients with a central line was 34 (32.7%). Mortality for all patients was 41 (9.4%). The incidence of sepsis increased with increasing number of central line days and increasing number of central line changes, but the effect of these two factors on the incidence of sepsis could not be studied separately, as they are highly correlated with each other. The most commonly recovered organisms were various types of Staphylococcus. Polymicrobial infections were common. There were 51 subclavian, 17 internal jugular, and 135 femoral catheters inserted. By logistic regression analysis, there was no statistically significant difference in the incidence of sepsis between upper- and lower-body CVL sites. Twenty-four patients (22.4%) with a CVL and one or more positive blood cultures were felt to have demonstrated sepsis. Some had more than one septic episode while lines were in place, reported as separate patients but not as separate septic episodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-170
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Medicine(all)


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