A central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI) occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream through a central line catheter. A central line catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted through a vein until it reaches a larger vein close to the heart. It is used to deliver medication, nutrition, IV fluids, andchemotherapy.

Chemotherapy Through the Bloodstream
Chemotherapy
A central line catheter can be used to deliver chemotherapy.
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If bacteria start to grow on the central line catheter, they can easily enter the blood and cause a serious infection. This can lead to a condition called sepsis, which occurs when bacteria overwhelm the body.

Bacteria normally live on the skin. These bacteria will sometimes track along the outside of the catheter. From the catheter, they can get into the bloodstream.