Rationale: Most vascular catheter-related infections (CRIs) occur extraluminally in patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). Chlorhexidine-impregnated and strongly adherent dressings may decrease catheter colonization and CRI rates.
Objectives: To determine if chlorhexidine-impregnated and strongly adherent dressings decrease catheter colonization and CRI rates.
Methods: In a 2:1:1 assessor-masked randomized trial in patients with vascular catheters inserted for an expected duration of 48 hours or more in 12 French ICUs, we compared chlorhexidine dressings, highly adhesive dressings, and standard dressings from May 2010 to July 2011. Coprimary endpoints were major CRI with or without catheter-related bloodstream infection (CR-BSI) with chlorhexidine versus nonchlorhexidine dressings and catheter colonization rate with highly adhesive nonchlorhexidine versus standard nonchlorhexidine dressings. Catheter-colonization, CR-BSIs, and skin reactions were secondary endpoints.
Measurements and Main Results: A total of 1,879 patients (4,163 catheters and 34,339 catheter-days) were evaluated. With chlorhexidine dressings, the major-CRI rate was 67% lower (0.7 per 1,000 vs. 2.1 per 1,000 catheter-days; hazard ratio [HR], 0.328; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.174–0.619; P = 0.0006) and the CR-BSI rate 60% lower (0.5 per 1,000 vs. 1.3 per 1,000 catheter-days; HR, 0.402; 95% CI, 0.186–0.868; P = 0.02) than with nonchlorhexidine dressings; decreases were noted in catheter colonization and skin colonization rates at catheter removal. The contact dermatitis rate was 1.1% with and 0.29% without chlorhexidine. Highly adhesive dressings decreased the detachment rate to 64.3% versus 71.9% (P < 0.0001) and the number of dressings per catheter to two (one to four) versus three (one to five) (P < 0.0001) but increased skin colonization (P < 0.0001) and catheter colonization (HR, 1.650; 95% CI, 1.21–2.26; P = 0.0016) without influencing CRI or CR-BSI rates.
Conclusions: A large randomized trial demonstrated that chlorhexidine-gel–impregnated dressings decreased the CRI rate in patients in the ICU with intravascular catheters. Highly adhesive dressings decreased dressing detachment but increased skin and catheter colonization.