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Objectives: To assess the clinical effectiveness of central venous catheters (CVCs) treated with anti-infective agents (AI-CVCs) in preventing catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSI).

Data Sources: MEDLINE (OVID), EMBASE, SCI//Web of Science, SCI/ISI Proceedings, and the Cochrane Library.

Study Selection: A systematic review of the literature was conducted using internationally recognized methodology. All included articles were reports of randomized controlled trials comparing the clinical effectiveness of CVCs treated with AI-CVCs with either standard CVCs or another anti-infective treated catheter. Articles requiring in-house preparation of catheters or that only reported interim data were excluded.

Data Extraction: Data extraction was carried out independently and crosschecked by two reviewers using a pretested data extraction form.

Data Synthesis: Meta-analyses were conducted to assess the effectiveness of AI-CVCs in preventing CRBSI, compared with standard CVCs. Results are presented in forest plots with 95% confidence intervals.

Results: Thirty-eight randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria. Methodologic quality was generally poor. Meta-analyses of data from 27 trials assessing CRBSI showed a strong treatment effect in favor of AI-CVCs (odds ratio 0.49 (95% confidence interval 0.37-0.64) fixed effects, test for heterogeneity, chi-square = 28.78, df = 26, p = 0.321, I2 = 9.7). Results subgrouped by the different types of anti-infective treatments generally demonstrated treatment effects favoring the treated catheters. Sensitivity analyses investigating the effects of methodologic differences showed no differences to the overall conclusions of the primary analysis.

Conclusion: AI-CVCs appear to be effective in reducing CRBSI compared with standard CVCs. However, it is important to establish whether this effect remains in settings where infection-prevention bundles of care are established as routine practice. This review does not address this question and further research is required.

(C) 2009 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins