Reliable long-term vascular access is essential for the treatment of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Although peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) have been in use for many years, little data exist on their use in patients receiving intensive chemotherapy. We retrospectively reviewed all AML patients who had a PICC inserted between July 95 and May 98. Fifty two PICCs were inserted in 40 patients with AML. Thirty three PICCs were inserted during severe thrombocytopenia (platelets < 50 × 109/L), and 31 during severe neutropenia (neutrophils < 0.5 × 109/L). Mean catheter duration was 82 (median 63, range 3-441) days for a total of 4274 catheter days. A mean of 1.8 chemotherapy courses were administered via each PICC. There were 5 early complications of PICC placement. Other mechanical complications occurred in 14 catheters and phlebitis in 12. Twenty blood stream infections (BSI) occurred in 17 patients. All BSIs occurred during neutropenia. Seventeen PICCs were removed due to the following complications - phlebitis (11), possible catheter related BSI (4), mechanical reasons in 3 (2 with concomitant phlebitis) and persistent fever (1). PICC duration was significantly shorter in these 17 catheters (52.9 v 96.4 days in the other 35, p=0.0289). We conclude that PICCs provide long-term vascular access with an acceptable complication rate in patients with AML. However, a randomised trial is required before PICCs can be considered an alternative to tunneled central venous catheters in these patients.
- Acute myeloid leukemia
- Peripherally inserted central venous catheters