Common catheter-related infection treatment not most effective among pediatric cancer patients

The ethanol-lock therapy, which is commonly used to treat central venous catheter-related bloodstream infections, was not the most effective at preventing infections among pediatric cancer patients, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial that included 94 patients treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Chicago and at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

The patients were receiving antibiotics for central line-associated bloodstream infections. They were randomly assigned to a six-month schedule of central line treatment with either 70 percent ethanol solution or saline solution.

The study shows 44 percent of patients in both groups developed new or recurring bloodstream infections or required surgical replacement of central line catheters. Also, 58 percent of patients in the ethanol group needed blood thinners versus 33 percent in the saline group.

"Based on these results, ethanol-lock therapy should not be routinely used in children with cancer or hematologic disorders," said study first author Joshua Wolf, an assistant member of St. Jude's infectious diseases department.

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