Imaging of peritoneal catheter tunnel infection using positron-emission tomography. Academic Article Case Study uri icon


  • Imaging by ultrasonography or scintigraphy may assist in the diagnosis and management of tunnel infections of the peritoneal dialysis (PD) catheter. Here, we report a case of tunnel infection in which imaging with positron-emission tomography (PET) correctly predicted failure of conservative management. A 61-year-old man with diabetic nephropathy commenced PD in January 2008. He developed erythema and drainage at the exit site, with negative cultures in February 2008, and frank exit-site infection (ESI) with purulent drainage growing methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus [MSSA (treated with 3 weeks of oral dicloxacillin)] in August 2008. Subsequently, MSSA-growing purulent drainage from the exit site persisted. Systemic antibiotics were not administered, but there was gradual improvement with gentamicin ointment alone. In November 2008, the patient developed partial extrusion of the outer cuff of the PD catheter. In January 2009, a new ESI developed. Despite a week of treatment with cefazolin and gentamicin, the patient still developed his first episode of peritonitis with coagulase-negative Staphylococcus. He then received intraperitoneal vancomycin with good response. Although the ESI appeared to have responded to the treatment, PET imaging showed increased fludeoxyglucose (FDG) activity in the whole abdominal wall portion of the PD catheter. The patient resisted removal of the catheter and had no further signs of infection until June 2009. At that time he presented with exuberant inflammatory tissue ("proud flesh") at the exit site. Repeated PET imaging again showed increased FDG activity along the abdominal wall portion of the catheter. The PD catheter was removed and found to be infected. The patient was placed on temporary hemodialysis. This case demonstrates that PET imaging, in addition to other imaging techniques, may be useful for diagnosing and managing PD catheter infections.