A pig model of tunneled dialysis catheter (TDC) infection and dysfunction: Opportunities for therapeutic innovation

Diego Celdran-Bonafonte, Lihua H. Wang, Aous Jarrouj, Begona Campos-Naciff, Jaroslav Janda, Prabir Roy-Chaudhury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although tunneled dialysis catheters (TDC) are far from ideal, they still represent the main form of vascular access for most patients beginning dialysis. Catheters are easy to place and allow patients instant access to dialysis, but regardless of these benefits, catheters are associated with a high incidence of significant complications like bloodstream infections, central venous stenosis, thrombosis, and dysfunction. In the present study, we aim to describe and characterize a swine model of catheter dysfunction and bloodstream infection, that recreates the clinical scenario, to help to serve as a platform to develop therapeutic innovations for this important clinical problem. Methods: Six Yorkshire cross pigs were used in this study. Non-coated commercial catheters were implanted in the external jugular recreating the main features of common clinical practice. Catheters were aseptically accessed twice a week for a mock dialysis procedure (flushing in and out) to assess for and identify catheter dysfunction. Animals were monitored daily for infections; once detected, blood samples were collected for bacterial culture and antibiograms. Study animals were euthanized when nonresponsive to treatment. Tissue samples were collected in a standardized fashion for macroscopic inspection and histological analysis. Results: The data analysis revealed an early onset of infection with a median time to infection of 9 days, 40% of the isolates were polymicrobial, and the average time to euthanasia was 20.16 ± 7.3 days. Median time to catheter dysfunction onset was 6 days post-implantation. Postmortem dissection revealed external fibrin sheath and internal thrombosis as the main causes of catheter dysfunction. There was also evidence of central venous stenosis with positive cells for αSMA, CD68, Ki67, Smoothelin, and Vimentin within the venous neointima. Conclusions: The described model represents a reliable and reproducible large animal model of catheter dysfunction and bloodstream infection, which recreates all the main complications of TDC’s and so could be used as a validated large animal model to develop new therapies for TDC related infection, thrombosis/dysfunction and central venous stenosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Vascular Access
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Dialysis
  • animal model
  • catheters
  • pig
  • preclinical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Nephrology


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