Non-tunneled central catheter—It is inserted in a large vein in the neck or leg; the tube end is outside of the skin.
Tunneled central catheter—It is inserted in the neck vein and “tunneled” under the skin. The end of the catheter is sticking out from under the skin, usually below the collarbone.
Port catheter—It is inserted in a shoulder or neck vein. The port is under the skin, and the catheter is tunneled into the central vein. The port is accessed by putting a needle through the skin directly into the port.
Veins in the Arm
A peripherally inserted central catheter is threaded through a vein in the arm.
A central catheter is commonly inserted by special types of doctors called interventional radiologists or vascular surgeons. Once the line is in, it can be used for weeks to months.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a central catheter inserted, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
If you think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor before the procedure.
You will be given a local anesthetic at the insertion area. Depending on where your central catheter is placed, you may receive a sedative through an IV.
Description of the Procedure
This procedure may be done while you are in the hospital as part of your treatment or in an outpatient setting. If you are already in the hospital for another reason, this procedure is unlikely to extend your stay.
Having a catheter inserted increases your risk of a bloodstream infection. The hospital staff will begin the procedure by taking the following steps to reduce this risk:
Carefully choose a safe site to insert the catheter.
Thoroughly wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer.
Wear surgical gowns, masks, gloves, and hair coverings.
Clean your skin with an antiseptic.
Place a sterile sheet over you.
The next steps may differ depending on the type of catheter and the insertion site. In general, the staff will:
Give you an anesthetic.
Make a small incision.
Use an x-ray or ultrasound to guide a wire into the vein.
Before inserting the catheter, cut it to the correct length. Flush the catheter with saline (salt water).
Insert the catheter using the guide wire. Then, remove the wire.
Use sutures or tape to secure the catheter line. Place caps on the end of the catheter.
Cover the insertion site with a bandage. Write the date of the insertion on or near the bandage.
If you have a port inserted, a small pocket for the port will be created under your skin. The incision will be closed over the pocket, usually with dissolving sutures.
Immediately After Procedure
You will be checked for bleeding, drainage, and bruising at the insertion site.
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
During the procedure, you will not feel any pain because of the anesthetic. There may be mild discomfort at the insertion site after the procedure.
Average Hospital Stay
This procedure is most commonly done in a hospital setting because it is needed for your treatment. The length of stay will depend on the reason you need the central catheter. If you are an outpatient receiving treatment through your central catheter, you may be sent home the same day as the procedure.
At the Hospital
After the procedure, the staff may provide the following care to help you recover:
Do an x-ray to make sure your catheter is in the correct position.
Continue to check the insertion site for bleeding.
Give you medicines, fluids, or nutrition through the catheter.
Flush catheter ports to prevent blood clots.
Take steps to reduce your risk of infection by:
Thoroughly washing their hands and wearing gloves before touching the catheter or changing the bandage
Using an antiseptic to clean the catheter opening
Taking precautions when handling medicine, fluid, or nutrition that will be delivered through the catheter
Watching you closely for signs of infections—These signs include fever, chills, and problems at the insertion site (eg, redness, swelling, drainage).
Not allowing visitors in your hospital room when the bandage is being changed
Keeping the catheter in place only as long as it is needed
There are also steps that you can take to reduce your risk of infection:
Ask the staff to take every precaution to prevent an infection.
Tell the staff right away if the bandage needs to be changed or if the site is red or sore.
Ask everyone entering your hospital room to wash their hands. Do not allow visitors to touch your catheter.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Keep your insertion site clean, dry, and covered with a bandage. Follow your doctor's instructions for changing the bandage.
Before touching the catheter, wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer. Wear gloves when touching the area.
If allowed by your doctor, cover the bandage with plastic when showering.
Do not swim or bathe while your central line is in.
Avoid lifting or any kind of activity that may loosen the central line.
Do not allow anyone to touch the catheter or the tube.
Check the insertion site daily for signs of infection (eg, redness, pain).
Learn how to take care of your catheter.
Flush the line with saline or heparin as directed.
Take medicine as directed.
Call Your Doctor
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Signs of infection—fever and chills, redness or swelling at the insertion site
Pain at the insertion site
Drainage or leakage from the catheter
Trouble flushing or inserting fluids into the catheter
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a