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MONDAY, July 7, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Antibiotic-coated catheters greatly reduce bloodstream infections in intensive care patients, say researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
The study of 4,130 patients found the antibiotic-coated catheters, inserted into the central vein, decreased infection rates threefold and reduced the number of serious infections cause by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotic treatment.
The catheters are coated with a combination of minocycline, which is sometimes used to treat acne, and rifampin, used to fight tuberculosis infections.
"Use of this catheter is the best way we have found yet to help prevent development of bloodstream infections caused by the presence of central venous catheters, a frequent complication critically ill patients cannot afford to have," study author Dr. Hend Hanna says in a statement.
About 200,000 cases of these infections, known as nosocomial bacteremia, occur each year in the United States, and about a quarter of affected patients die. Patients in intensive-care units account for about half of all the infections.
The infections develop most often in people receiving medications and nourishment through a catheter inserted through the skin and into a central vein. Bacteria on the skin colonize and migrate along the catheter into the bloodstream.
The antibiotic-coated catheter received initial U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 1996. This past April, the FDA approved long-term use of the coated catheters. Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the use of the coated catheters in hospitals with high infection rates.
Here's where you can learn more about bacterial infections.