Prophylactic Urokinase in the Management of Long-Term Venous Access Devices in Children: A Children's Oncology Group Study

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Infection and thrombosis are serious complications of long-term vascular access devices in children undergoing chemotherapy. Since routine fibrinolytic therapy may decrease these complications, the purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of an every-2-week administration of urokinase with standard heparin flushes in reducing the incidence of device-related infections and occlusions.

Materials and Methods

This study was a prospective, randomized phase III multicenter trial conducted by the Children's Cancer Group, in which patients with implantable ports or tunneled catheters received either urokinase or heparin every 2 weeks for 12 months. Study end points were time to first occlusion or time to first device-related infection.


Five hundred seventy-seven patients from 29 institutions were enrolled, of whom 51% had external catheters and 49% had ports. Urokinase administration resulted in fewer occlusive events than heparin (23% v 31%; P = .02), a longer time to first occlusive event (log-rank analysis, P = .006), and a 1.6-fold difference in the rate of occlusive events (Poisson regression, P = .003). Similar results were noted when comparing ports and tunneled catheters. The urokinase group also had a 1.4-fold difference in the rate of infection (Poisson regression, P = .05) and longer time to first infection (log-rank, P = .07), but the difference was significant only in tunneled catheters.


Urokinase administration every 2 weeks significantly affects the rate of occlusive events in ports and tunneled catheters and of infectious events in external catheters compared with heparin administration.

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