Clinical Trial
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Initial subcutaneous embedding of the peritoneal dialysis catheter--a critical appraisal of this new implantation technique.

BACKGROUND: The objectives of this open non-randomized study were to evaluate the impact of a new peritoneal catheter placement technique on catheter maintenance, and complications possibly related to the access, e.g. leakage, infectious complications, or drainage failure.

METHOD: In a routine clinical setting, a two-cuff swan-neck catheter was implanted surgically, but its external segment was embedded in a subcutaneous pouch initially without exit site to enable uncontaminated wound healing and tight ingrowth of the cuffs. After 4 weeks at the earliest the distal catheter tip was set free by a small incision under local anaesthesia, and CAPD was started.

RESULTS: Using this technique, 26 catheters were implanted in 17 males and nine females (mean age 52.3 +/- 17.4, range 19-83 years). The catheters were buried subcutaneously for a median of 79.5 (mean +/- SD 132.2 +/- 157.2, range 28-675) days, and were activated in 21 patients. No leaks were seen, and only one abdominal wall abscess secondary to a haematoma was found. Long-term follow up (mean duration of CAPD 467.0 +/- 338.1, range 32-1320 days) revealed a very low overall incidence of infectious complications, i.e. 0.80 per patient-year (1 episode per 14.9 patient-months), and the incidence of catheter-related peritonitis amounted to 0.036 per patient-year (1 episode per 27.2 patient-years), only. However, the postoperative course was complicated by seromas in two of 26, and subcutaneous haematomas in 12 of 26 patients, five of which were revised surgically. At catheter activation, fibrin thrombi were found in nine of 21 patients and two had to be operated. Omental catheter obstruction was diagnosed in four patients, and followed by omentectomy. No relationship was seen between thrombus formation and omental obstruction and duration of subcutaneous embedment (P = 0.27 and P = 0.5 respectively) or patient age (P = 0.06 and P = 0.13 respectively; Mann-Whitney-test). There was also no relationship with primary omentectomy or haematoma.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that although the very low incidence of infectious episodes favours the new technique, further improvement is necessary to decrease the unacceptable rate of perioperative complications. Subcutaneous embedding of the catheter may then be considered in patients with expected problems of wound healing, and those who wish to be prepared for peritoneal dialysis in time.

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