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PURPOSE: To determine the incidence and predictors of femoral tunneled dialysis catheter (TDC)-related complications and whether prophylactic anticoagulation is associated with reduced catheter-related deep vein thrombosis (CRT) or prolonged patency. METHODS: A retrospective review of femoral TDCs inserted for maintenance hemodialysis in patients from two dialysis units that have used two different strategies to reduce thrombotic complications. One center routinely considered all femoral TDCs for prophylactic anticoagulation, whilst the other restricted anticoagulation to TDCs that had required repeated treatment with urokinase locks to maintain patency. Survival analyses were performed to establish complication rates, identify predictors of complications and assess the effect of prophylactic anticoagulation use. RESULTS: Of the 194 femoral TDCs identified, 178 (92%) were associated with at least one complication. Approximately three quarters did not provide adequate small solute clearance; one half were not in use by three months; one quarter had at least one catheter-related infection (2.3 per 1000 catheter days); and one in ten developed a CRT (1.1 per 1000 catheter days). Prophylactic anticoagulation was not associated with significant improvements in rates of catheter occlusion, CRT, catheter-related infection or dialysis adequacy. A previous ipsilateral femoral TDC was identified as a statistically significant predictor of a CRT (adjusted hazard ratio 3.7 [95% confidence interval 1.4-9.8]; P=.007). CONCLUSIONS: Femoral TDCs are associated with poor patency rates and high complication rates; reusing femoral veins for TDCs should be avoided where possible, and this study provides no evidence to support routine prophylactic anticoagulation in all patients with femoral TDCs.

Original publication




Journal article


J Vasc Access

Publication Date





135 - 142


Aged, Anticoagulants, Catheter Obstruction, Catheters, Indwelling, Chi-Square Distribution, Drug Administration Schedule, England, Female, Femoral Vein, Humans, Kaplan-Meier Estimate, Male, Middle Aged, Proportional Hazards Models, Renal Dialysis, Retrospective Studies, Risk Factors, Time Factors, Treatment Outcome, Vascular Patency, Venous Thrombosis