Needleless connectors are being increasingly used for direct access to intravascular catheters. However, the potential for microbial contamination of these devices and subsequent infection risk is still widely debated. In this study the microbial contamination rate associated with three-way stopcock luers with standard caps attached was compared to those with Y-type extension set luers with Clearlink® needleless connectors attached. Fifty patients undergoing cardiothoracic surgery who required a central venous catheter (CVC) as part of their peri- and postoperative management were studied for microbial contamination of CVC luers following 72 hrs in situ. Each patient's CVC was randomly designated to have either the three-way stopcocks with caps (control patients) or Clearlink® Y-type extension sets (test patients). Prior to, and following each manipulation of the three-way stopcock luers or Clearlink® devices, a 70% (v/v) isopropyl alcohol swab was used for disinfection of the connections. The microbial contamination of 393 luers, 200 with standard caps and 193 with Clearlink® attached, was determined. The internal surfaces of 20 of 200 (10%) three-way stopcock luers with standard caps were contaminated with micro-organisms whereas only one of 193 (0.5%) luers with Clearlink® attached was contaminated (P < 0.0001). These results demonstrate that the use of the Clearlink® device with a dedicated disinfection regimen reduces the internal microbial contamination rate of CVC luers compared with standard caps. The use of such needle-free devices may therefore reduce the intraluminal risk of catheter-related bloodstream infection and thereby supplement current preventive guidelines. © 2006 The Hospital Infection Society.
- needleless connector