Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters (PICCs) in Cancer Patients Under Chemotherapy: A Prospective Study on the Incidence of Complications and Overall Failures

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Background and Objectives:

The increasing use of peripherally inserted central venous catheters (PICCs) for chemotherapy has led to the observation of an elevated risk of complications and failures. This study investigates PICC failures in cancer patients.


A prospective study was conducted at a single cancer institution on 291 PICC placement for chemotherapy. The primary study outcome was PICC failure.


Median follow-up was 119 days. PICC complications occurred in 72 patients (24.7%) and failures with removal in 44 (15.1%). Reasons for failures were upper extremity deep venous thrombosis (UEDVT) 12 (4.1%), central line associate bloodstream infection (CLABSI) 5 (1.7%) with an infection rate of 0.95 per 1,000 catheter days, exit site infection 9 (3.1%) with a rate of 1.46 per 1,000 catheter days, catheter dislodgment 11 (3.8%), and occlusion 7 (2.4%). Statistically significant risk factors were previous DVT (HR 2.95, 95%CI 1.33–6.53), reason for PICC implant (HR 3.65, 95%CI 1.12–10.34) and 5-fluorouracil, oxaliplatin and bevacizumab based chemotherapy (HR 3.11, 95%CI 1.17–8.26).


PICC is a safe venous device for chemotherapy delivery. Nevertheless, a 15% rate of failure has to be taken in account when planning PICC insertion for chemotherapy purposes. J. Surg. Oncol. 2016;113:708–714. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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