Safety and Efficacy Study of Ethanol Locking to Prevent Central Line Infection in Premature Neonates

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT01365312
Recruitment Status : Terminated (Primary investigator relocated)
First Posted : June 3, 2011
Last Update Posted : October 3, 2014
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Amber Fort, East Carolina University

May 31, 2011
June 3, 2011
October 3, 2014
February 2010
June 2011   (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Incidence of PICC-related sepsis in infants with ethanol-treated vs. Placebo treated lines [ Time Frame: Study Day #28 or sooner if PICC is discontinued before day #28 ]
Primary endpoint of the study is to compare the incidence of PICC-related sepsis in infants with ethanol treated vs. Placebo treated lines by study day 28. PICC-related sepsis is defined by any 2 clinical signs or symptoms plus one positive peripheral blood culture for a recognized pathogen in this population other than coagulase-negative staphylococcus, or 2 positive peripheral blood cultures for coagulase-negative staphylococcus within 48 hours.
Same as current
Complete list of historical versions of study NCT01365312 on Archive Site
  • Evaluation of PICC colonization following ethanol locking [ Time Frame: Duration of PICC use, average of 3 weeks ]
    PICC colonization is reflected by growth of >15 CFU from a 5-cm segement of the PICC tip by semiquantitative (roll-plate) culture, or growoth of >100 CFU by quantitative (sonication) broth culture in an otherwise asymptomatic patient.
  • Whether the primary and secondary endpoints differ by birthweight strata [ Time Frame: Duration of PICC use, average of 3 weeks ]
    Birthweight stratification will use a 3-tiered subset (<1000g, 1000-1250g, and >1250g) consistent with existing neonatal literature.
  • To determine whether ethanol lock treatment impacts incidence of clinical evaluations for suspected sepsis [ Time Frame: Duration of PICC use, average of 3 weeks ]
    Other evaluations for suspected sepsis are those not defined by the primary endpoint but meeting criteria for infection of some other sterile body fluid (urine or CSF).
  • To determine whether antibiotic use for any indication (including non-bacteremia) alters the incidence of PICC-related infection or colonization as defined in the primary and secondary endpoints [ Time Frame: Duration of PICC use, average of 3 weeks ]
    See above
  • Determine side effects of ethanol locking in premature babies [ Time Frame: Duration of PICC use, average of 3 weeks ]
    To determine the side effects of flushing ethanol locks into premature infants following lock therapy, if any
  • To determine effect of ethanol locking on neonatal PICC lines [ Time Frame: Duration of PICC use, average of 3 weeks ]
    To determine how ethanol locking affects central line function and integrity in vivo, if at all.
Same as current
Not Provided
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Safety and Efficacy Study of Ethanol Locking to Prevent Central Line Infection in Premature Neonates
A Prospective, Randomized, Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Periodic, Brief Ethanol Locks to Prevent Peripherally-Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) Infections in Preterm Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Appropriate delivery of adequate nutrition and medications in premature infants often requires central venous access in the form of a special IV called a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter). While a necessary feature of neonatal intensive care, PICCs pose significant risk: among the most serious of these is infection. One common, successful infection control practice used in older children and adults involves the use of a lock, in which a fluid-filled syringe is attached to the end of an IV when it is not in use in order to prevent and/or treat clotting or infection. The solution is left for some period of time and is then either withdrawn from the line or flushed into the patient. The solution could be saline, antibiotics, other antiseptics, or any combination of these. However in the premature infant, use of antibiotics as a locking compound risks leaving behind organisms resistant to treatment; antiseptics can irritate vessels and cause breakage to sensitive premature skin; saline has neither sterilization nor anti-infective properties. By contrast, ethanol neutralizes or kills most bacteria, viruses, and fungi without the risk of resistance, and because it is not externally applied there is no risk to baby skin. Ethanol-based lock protocols have been used safely and effectively in both adult and pediatric populations without adverse effects, but this has not been tested in premature babies because fluids and medication are delivered continuously: placement of a lock traditionally requires an extended pause (hours or days) in fluid and medication administration.

To overcome these key limitations, a periodic, brief ethanol lock protocol was designed such that both infant exposure and interruptions to fluid and medication delivery would be minimized. The lock is practical, cheap, easy to place, and takes advantage of an existing daily pause during which IV tubing and fluids hooked up to the PICC are changed. The objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that use of a 70% ethanol lock, every 3rd day, for 15 minutes, will safely and effectively reduce PICC infection in our unit.

PICC infection is of particular concern in the NICU because of the need for long term intravenous access in many very-low and the majority of extremely-low birthweight infants, the very populations at highest risk for infection in the first place. Central lines are a mainstay of treatment in these babies because of the need for extended parenteral nutrition, which itself has been associated with blood stream infection, not to mention the increased use of anti-infectives, added hospitalization costs, longer length of stay, and negative impact upon nutrition delivery when infectious complications occur.

Existing infection control practices differ by unit and region, and include hand washing, sterile precautions at insertion and dressing changes, elimination of mandatory scheduled dressing changes, minimizing port access to the extent permitted by clinical care, prophylactic antibiotics, and closed medication systems. Success is variable: there is no standard highly effective, safe approach to infection control, and central line infection remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the NICU.

A standard practice to maintain central line patency when it is not in use is to lock it with a syringe containing a heparinized solution. Locks containing antibiotics have been used to prevent infection of central lines and to treat already-infected lines, but this approach confers risk of development of organisms resistant to treatment. External chlorhexidine-impregnated dressings have been used but can harm premature skin and do not achieve sterilization of the lumen or hub, where most infections originate.

Medical grade ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is a widely used compound with uses as a disinfectant, preservative, antidote to ingested ethylene glycol (anti-freeze), and anti-microbial. The FDA lists no specific approval or indication though it's use is widely recognized. Multiple studies have been conducted in sheep, children and adults, using 0.5-2 mL 70% ethanol locks to successfully prevent and/or treat catheter related infection without development of resistant organisms, adverse side effects to patients, or disruptions in catheter integrity. Though the ethanol lock approach has not yet been applied to premature neonates, safe and successful precedent in humans as young as 3 months is established; ours is the first trial of ethanol locking in a NICU setting.

Not Applicable
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Prevention
  • Infection Associated With Catheter
  • Bacteremia
  • Sepsis
  • Drug: Ethanol lock
    Placement of 0.5 cc 70% ethanol, every 72 hours, for 15 minutes, into PICC lines randomized to ethanol intervention
  • Drug: Heparinized saline
    0.5 cc heparinized saline to be placed once every 72 hours for 15 minutes, in PICC lines randomized to placebo
  • Experimental: Ethanol
    Assigned intervention is a 70% ethanol lock, placed every 72 hours for 15 minutes, for the duration of the PICC line.
    Intervention: Drug: Ethanol lock
  • Placebo Comparator: Heparinized saline
    Intervention is to place a heparinized saline lock every 72 hours for 15 minutes, for the duration of the line.
    Intervention: Drug: Heparinized saline
Not Provided

*   Includes publications given by the data provider as well as publications identified by Identifier (NCT Number) in Medline.
Not Provided
June 2011   (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Preterm infants < 32 weeks gestation at birth who require a PICC

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Any baby with a positive blood culture less than 48 hours prior to PICC placement; any infant who requires pressors in excess of >5 mcg/kg/min
Sexes Eligible for Study: All
up to 32 Weeks   (Child)
Contact information is only displayed when the study is recruiting subjects
United States
Not Provided
Not Provided
Amber Fort, East Carolina University
East Carolina University
Not Provided
Not Provided
East Carolina University
October 2014

ICMJE     Data element required by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and the World Health Organization ICTRP