BACKGROUND: External ventricular drainage (EVD) catheters provide reliable and accurate means of monitoring intracranial pressure and alleviating elevated pressures via drainage of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF infections occur in approximately 9% of patients. Antibiotic-impregnated (AI) EVD catheters were developed with the goal of reducing the occurrence of EVD catheter-related CSF infections and their associated complications. OBJECTIVE: To present an international, prospective, randomized, open-label trial to evaluate infection incidence of AI vs standard EVD catheters. METHODS: Infection was defined as (1) proven infection, positive CSF culture and positive Gram stain or (2) suspected infection: (A) positive CSF culture with no organisms identified on initial Gram stain; (B) negative CSF culture with a gram-positive or -negative stain; (C) CSF leukocytosis with a white blood cell/red blood cell count >0.02. RESULTS: Four hundred thirty-four patients underwent implantation of an EVD catheter. One hundred seventy-six patients in the AI-EVD cohort and 181 in the standard EVD catheter cohort were eligible for evaluation of infection. The 2 groups were similar in all clinical characteristics. Proven infection was documented in 9 (2.5%) patients (AI: 4 [2.3%] vs standard: 5 [2.8%], P = 1.0). Suspected infection was documented in 31 (17.6%) patients receiving AI and 37 (20.4%) patients receiving standard EVD catheters, P = .504. Duration of time to suspected infection was prolonged in the AI cohort (8.8 ± 6.1 days) compared with the standard EVD cohort (4.6 ± 4.2 days), P = .002. CONCLUSION: AI-EVD catheters were associated with an extremely low rate of catheter-related infections. AI catheters were not associated with risk reduction in EVD infection compared to standard catheters. Use of AI-EVD catheters is a safe option for a wide variety of patients requiring CSF drainage and monitoring, but the efficacy of AI-EVD catheters was not supported in this trial.
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