The effectiveness of dressings and securement devices to prevent central venous catheter-associated complications: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Hui (Grace) Xu, Areum Hyun, Gabor Mihala, Claire M. Rickard, Marie L. Cooke, Frances Lin, Marion Mitchell, Amanda J. Ullman

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Background: Central venous catheters are commonly used in healthcare, but they come with a range of potential complications. Over the last 15 years, an influx of securement and dressing products has been released, with unknown overall effectiveness to prevent these complications. 

Objective: To compare the effects of dressings and securement devices for central venous catheters on a range of common complications including catheter-related bloodstream infection, catheter tip colonisation, entry/exit-site infection, skin colonisation, skin irritation, failed catheter securement, dressing durability and mortality. 

Design: Systematic review with meta-analysis. 

Methods: Following standard Cochrane methods, a systematic search of Cochrane Wounds Trials Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE Ovid, Embase Ovid, EBSCO CINAHL, and multiple clinical trial registries was completed in November 2022. Randomised controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of dressing and securement devices for all CVC types were included. A random-effects model was used during the meta-analysis. Results were expressed using risk ratio (RR), rate ratio, or mean difference (MD), with 95 % confidence intervals (CIs). Methodological quality and bias were assessed. 

Results: We included 46 studies involving 10,054 participants. All studies had either an unclear or high-performance bias. The blinding of outcome assessment was unclear in most studies. Chlorhexidine gluconate-impregnated dressings, compared with standard polyurethane dressings, may reduce the incidence (7 studies; N = 5816; RR 0.60, 95 % CI 0.44–0.83; low certainty evidence) and rate (4 studies; N = 4447; RR 0.51, 95 % CI 0.32–0.79; moderate certainty evidence) of catheter-related bloodstream infection and catheter tip colonisation (8 studies; N = 4788; RR 0.70, 95 % CI 0.52–0.95; very low certainty evidence). Medication-impregnated dressings may reduce the incidence of catheter-related bloodstream infection (6 studies; N = 5687; RR 0.60, 95 % CI 0.39–0.93; low certainty evidence) and catheter-tip colonisation (7 studies; N = 4769; RR 0.60, 95 % CI 0.47–0.76; low certainty evidence) relative to non-impregnated dressing types. Tissue adhesive may increase the risk of skin irritation or damage compared with integrated securement dressings (3 studies; N = 166; RR 1.88, 95 % CI 1.09–3.24; low certainty evidence) or sutureless securement devices (4 studies; N = 241; RR 1.64, 95 % CI 1.10–2.44; moderate certainty evidence). Tissue adhesive increased dressing durability compared with integrated securement dressings (MD 43.03 h, 95 % CI 4.88–81.18; moderate certainty evidence) and sutureless securement devices (MD 42.90 h, 4.64–81.16; moderate certainty evidence). Tissue adhesive increased failed catheter securement rate compared with suture (2 studies; N = 103; RR 9.33, 95 % CI 1.10–79.21; moderate certainty evidence). 

Conclusions: The findings of the review provide insights and guidance for clinicians in selecting the appropriate dressings and securements for catheters. Findings should be interpreted with caution due to heterogeneity in catheters and patient types. 

Registration: #CD010367. 

Tweetable abstract: Time to implement chlorhexidine gluconate-impregnated dressings to prevent catheter-related bloodstream infections; a meta-analysis by @GraceNP and team.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104620
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Early online date9 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • Catheter-related infections
  • Central venous catheters
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Vascular access devices


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