A peripherally inserted central catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted through a vein in the arm. The catheter is threaded through the arm vein until it reaches a larger vein close to the heart. This is commonly called a PICC line.
You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area where the PICC line will be inserted.
Description of Procedure
This procedure is usually done in an outpatient setting, so you will not need to stay overnight in the hospital. If you are already in the hospital for a different reason, this procedure is not likely 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 arm with antiseptic cleanser.
Place a sterile sheet over you.
Next, the staff will:
Give you an anesthetic.
Extend your arm away from your body.
Measure the distance from your arm vein to where the catheter will end.
Cut the catheter to the correct length. Flush the catheter with saline (salt water).
Place a tourniquet on your arm. A tourniquet is a device used to slow blood flow.
Make a small incision.
Insert the catheter into your vein. An ultrasound may be used to help place the catheter.
Use sutures or tape to secure the PICC 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.
Immediately After Procedure
Your arm will be checked for bleeding, drainage, and bruising.
How Long Will It Take?
About half an hour
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.
At the Care Center
Following 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 PICC line is in.
Avoid lifting or any kind of activity that may loosen the PICC 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, chills, redness or swelling at the insertion site
Pain around the insertion site
Drainage or leakage from the PICC line
Trouble flushing or inserting fluids into the PICC line
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