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Evaluation of Febrile, Nonneutropenic Pediatric Oncology Patients with Central Venous Catheters Who Are Not Given Empiric Antibiotics

The Journal of Pediatrics
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.09.008
  • Biology
  • Design
  • Medicine


Objective To evaluate the practice of empiric antibiotics for febrile, nonneutropenic pediatric oncology patients with a central venous catheter (CVC) in place. Study design Episodes of fever without neutropenia (absolute neutrophil count [ANC] ≥500 cells/mm3) were reviewed retrospectively in pediatric oncology patients with a CVC undergoing chemotherapy. Characteristics and symptoms were compared between patients with bacteremia and patients without bacteremia. Results A total of 392 episodes of nonneutropenic fever in 138 subjects (52 females; 38%) were reviewed. In this cohort, the median age at an episode was 7 years, and the majority of patients had a diagnosis of acute leukemia (54%). Median ANC was 3100 cells/mm3 (IQR, 1570-5980 cells/mm3). Median temperature was 38.7°C (IQR, 38.3-39.2°C). Twenty-four infectious episodes (6%) occurred in 18 subjects, and 5 CVCs required removal; all patients requiring removal admitted and received antibiotics owing to chills. There were no significant difference in age, sex, or ANC between patients with bacteremia and those without bacteremia; however, mean temperature was higher in the patients with bacteremia (39.4°C vs 38.7°C; P = .003). No deaths due to sepsis occurred, and no CVCs were removed because antibiotics were not administered empirically. Conclusion Our practice of observing pediatric oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy with CVCs who are not neutropenic does not appear to lead to increased serious adverse outcomes and avoids antibiotic exposure for >90% of patients without a bacterial infection.

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