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Femoral vein tunneled catheters as a last resort to vascular access: report of five cases and review of literature.

Vascular access (VA) remains a thorny problem in at least some patients requiring hemodialysis (HD). When options like arterio-venous fistulae, grafts, and thoracic tunneled central catheters are exhausted, the patient survival becomes endangered. The choices left are limited to transplantation, peritoneal dialysis, and translumbar and femoral catheter insertion. The latter may, in many instances, be the only possibility. We report our experience in six patients, in whom all the vascular accesses were exhausted and transplantation or peritoneal dialysis could not be performed. Hence, we opted for femoral tunneled catheters (FTC) as a permanent and sole VA. The mean follow up period was 16 months (8-22 months). The mean age of the patients was 53.1 (35-72) years, the mean time on HD was 3.125 years (2-4.5), and the mean number of vascular accesses was 4.7 (4-7). In five patients, a Permcath (Quinton, Kendall) was inserted, and in one patient, a twin Tessio catheter (MPS, Germany) was inserted. All patients were administered aspirin or clopidogrel to prevent catheter thrombosis. Aseptic nursing procedures and personal hygiene were emphasized. All catheters were functional at 2.5 months. The mean blood flow was 220 mL/min (200-240 mL/min). One patient died at 18 months, with a functional catheter, due massive gastro-intestinal bleed not directly related to the FTC. In one patient, the site of the catheter was changed at 6.5 months due to accidental pulling of the catheter by the patient. One catheter flow became inadequate after nine months, which could be reversed with streptokinase or tissue plasminogen activator. One patient presented excessive bleeding at the time of insertion that was controlled after 25 minutes of compression against the pelvic bone. One patient presented deep vein thrombosis with catheter thrombosis that required reinsertion of the catheter three months later. In one patient, the catheter functioned for 19.5 months after insertion. It is noteworthy that no patient developed catheter-related septicemia. None of the patients developed late hemorrhage. We conclude that tunneled femoral catheter is a viable option in patients with exhausted VA. Strict aseptic nursing technique and personal hygiene are essential. A multi-center study would give a better insight into this type of VA.

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