Infection rates of different CVC insertion sites

Arvaniti K, et al. Cumulative Evidence of Randomized Controlled and Observational Studies onCatheter-Related Infection Risk of Central Venous Catheter Insertion Site in ICU Patients: A Pairwise and Network Meta-Analysis. Crit Care Med. 2017 Apr;45(4):e437-e448.

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Data Synthesis: Twenty studies were included; 11 were observational, seven were randomized controlled trials for other outcomes, and two were randomized controlled trials for sites. We evaluated 18,554 central venous catheters: 9,331 from observational studies, 5,482 from randomized controlled trials for other outcomes, and 3,741 from randomized controlled trials for sites. Colonization risk was higher for internal jugular (relative risk, 2.25 [95% CI, 1.84-2.75]; I2 = 0%) and femoral (relative risk, 2.92 [95% CI, 2.11-4.04]; I2 = 24%), compared with subclavian. Catheter-related bloodstream infection risk was comparable for internal jugular and subclavian, higher for femoral than subclavian (relative risk, 2.44 [95% CI, 1.25-4.75]; I2 = 61%), and lower for internal jugular than femoral (relative risk, 0.55 [95% CI, 0.34-0.89]; I2 = 61%). When observational studies that did not control for baseline characteristics were excluded, catheter-related bloodstream infection risk was comparable between the sites.

Conclusions: In ICU patients, internal jugular and subclavian may, similarly, decrease catheter-related bloodstream infection risk, when compared with femoral. Subclavian could be suggested as the most appropriate site, whenever colonization risk is considered and not, otherwise, contraindicated. Current evidence on catheter-related bloodstream infection femoral risk, compared with the other sites, is inconclusive.


“The density of skin flora at the catheter insertion site is a major risk factor for CRBSI. No single trial has satisfactorily compared infection rates for catheters placed in jugular, subclavian, and femoral veins.” (CDC, p. 27)

CDC (2011, updated 2017). Guidelines for the Prevention of Intravascular Catheter-Related Infections.  Atlanta, GA.


More PubMed results on CVC sites and infection rates.