Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 1189–1197 | Cite as

Chlorhexidine for the prevention of bloodstream infection associated with totally implantable venous ports in patients with solid cancers

  • Hsiang-Fong Kao
  • I-Chun Chen
  • Chiun Hsu
  • Sin-Yuan Chang
  • Shu-Fen Chien
  • Yee-Chun Chen
  • Fu-Chang Hu
  • James Chih-Hsin Yang
  • Ann-Lii Cheng
  • Kun-Huei Yeh
Original Article



To evaluate the preventive effects of topical skin disinfection with chlorhexidine on bloodstream infection (BSI) associated with totally implantable venous port (Port-A).


Two consecutive cohorts of solid cancer patients were prospectively followed for the occurrence of Port-A associated BSI (PABSI). The first cohort used povidone–iodine as topical skin disinfection and the second cohort used chlorhexidine. The primary endpoint was the time to first PABSI. Propensity score analysis was applied. The preventive effects of chlorhexidine were analyzed by Cox proportional hazards models.


There were 396 patients (81,752 catheter-days) in the iodine cohort and 497 (99,977 catheter-days) in the chlorhexidine cohort. Gram-negative bacteria were the most common pathogens to cause first episode of PABSI (iodine cohort (I) vs chlorhexidine cohort (C) and 0.404 vs 0.450 per 1,000 catheter-day), followed by Gram-positive bacteria (I vs C and 0.269 vs 0.110 per 1,000 catheter-day), and fungi (I vs C and 0.098 vs 0.070 per 1,000 catheter-day). Three hundred forty-three patients were selected from each cohort by propensity score match analysis. Chlorhexidine use was associated with a significant improvement on time to first PABSI caused by Gram-positive bacteria (log-rank test, p = 0.00175; HR = 0.35, 95 % CI, 0.14–0.85, p = 0.02). No significant preventive effects of chlorhexidine on time to first PABSI caused by Gram-negative bacteria or fungi was found.


Chlorhexidine topical skin disinfection may prevent PABSI caused by Gram-positive bacteria in patients with solid cancers. The nonsignificant effect on preventing overall PABSI may be attributed to the high incidence of Gram-negative bacteria related PABSI.


Catheterization Central venous/adverse effects Neoplasms/adverse effects Chlorhexidine Povidone–iodine 



This study was supported by grants NTUH-100-S1805 from the National Taiwan University Hospital and DOH100-TD-C-111-001 from the Department of Health, Taiwan.

Conflict of interest

None to declare

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hsiang-Fong Kao
    • 1
    • 2
  • I-Chun Chen
    • 2
  • Chiun Hsu
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sin-Yuan Chang
    • 4
  • Shu-Fen Chien
    • 4
    • 5
  • Yee-Chun Chen
    • 3
    • 5
  • Fu-Chang Hu
    • 6
    • 7
  • James Chih-Hsin Yang
    • 2
    • 8
  • Ann-Lii Cheng
    • 2
    • 3
    • 8
  • Kun-Huei Yeh
    • 2
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of OncologyNational Taiwan University Hospital, Yun-Lin BranchYun-LinTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of OncologyNational Taiwan University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineNational Taiwan University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of NursingNational Taiwan University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  5. 5.Center for Infection ControlNational Taiwan University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  6. 6.Graduate Institute of Clinical MedicineNational Taiwan University College of MedicineTaipeiTaiwan
  7. 7.School of NursingNational Taiwan University College of MedicineTaipeiTaiwan
  8. 8.Graduate Institute of OncologyNational Taiwan University College of MedicineTaipeiTaiwan

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