Ethanol lock technique: Review of the literature

Melissa Maiefski, Mark E. Rupp, Elizabeth D. Hermsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Central venous catheters (CVCs) are commonly used among adult and pediatric patients for administration of fluids, medications, and nutrition. Central line-associated (CLA) bloodstream infection (BSI) is a serious complication following CVC insertion. The aim of this review is to summarize available data regarding the ethanol lock technique, which is a proposed method for sterilizing the lumen of the catheter by instilling an ethanol solution and allowing it to dwell in the catheter for a certain amount of time. Studies on ethanol lock technique differ in ethanol concentrations, luminal dwell times, catheter types, inclusion of anticoagulants, use of systemic antibiotics, and use of the technique for prevention or for treatment of CLA BSI. In vitro studies demonstrate the efficacy of ethanol in the eradication of various pathogens. Definitive catheter integrity data are limited. Clinical trials report tolerable adverse events with ethanol locks, as well as encouraging results for prevention and treatment of CLA BSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1096-1108
Number of pages13
JournalInfection Control and Hospital Epidemiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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