The application of chlorhexidine dressings may reduce the incidence of definite or probable catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSI) in patients with chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, according to a study published in the journal Annals of Oncology.1

CRBSI frequently causes morbidity and mortality of patients with cancer who experience neutropenia during chemotherapy. Because chlorhexidine-containing catheter securement dressings may reduce the risk of CRBSI, researchers evaluated dressing efficacy by enrolling 613 patients who received care in 10 German hematology departments. Patients with neutropenia were randomly assigned to receive chlorhexidine-containing dressings or control dressings.

Incidence of definite CRBSI within the first 14 days of central venous catheter placement was 2.6% in the chlorhexidine group and 3.9% in the control group (P = .375), which did not meet the study’s primary endpoint.

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It was found, however, that the combined incidence of definite or probable CRBSI within 14 days and the overall incidence of definite or probable CRBSI were significantly lower for patients who received chlorhexidine dressings, versus those who had control dressings (P = .047 and P = .019, respectively).

The frequency of dressing intolerance with cutaneous and soft tissue abnormalities at the contact area was similar in both arms (P = .901).

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Although the study did not achieve its primary endpoint, the findings suggest that the use of chlorhexidine dressings decreases the incidence of definite or probable CRBSI in this at-risk patient population.


  1. Biehl LM, Huth A, Panse J, et al. A randomized trial on chlorhexidine dressings for the prevention of catheter-related bloodstream infections in neutropenic patients. Ann Oncol. 2016 Jul 25. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdw275. [Epub ahead of print]