Catheter-related thrombosis in cancer patients

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Central venous catheters are commonly used in haematology departments for the administration of chemotherapy, blood products and parenteral nutrition in patients with haematological malignancy. Thrombosis is a recognized complication of such devices especially in oncology patients. Catheter-related thrombi (CRT) may lead to pulmonary embolism and infection, as well as catheter failure and potential delays in treatment. The vast majority of CRT are asymptomatic, thus a high index of suspicion is required in making the diagnosis. Doppler ultrasound or venography may be employed to identify CRT. Once confirmed, the initiation of treatment is a balance between the risks of anticoagulation against potential complications of CRT. A number of risk factors for CRT are discussed along with an overview of catheter types, their appropriate choice and intravascular positioning.

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