Central venous access device - dressing change; CVAD - dressing change
You have a central venous catheter. This is a tube that goes into a vein in your chest and ends at your heart. It helps carry nutrients or medicine into your body. It is also used to take blood when you need to have blood tests.
Dressings are special bandages that block germs and keep your catheter site dry and clean. This article describes how to change your dressing.
Central venous catheters are used when people need medical treatment over a long period.
You'll need to change your dressing often, so that germs don't get into your catheter and make you sick. Follow your health care provider's instructions on changing your dressing. Use this sheet to help remind you of the steps.
You should change the dressing about once a week. You will need to change it sooner if it becomes loose or gets wet or dirty. After some practice, it will get easier. A friend, family member, caregiver, or your doctor may be able to help you.
Your provider will tell you when you can shower or bathe after surgery. When you do, make sure the dressings are secure and your catheter site is staying dry. DO NOT let the catheter site go under water if you are soaking in the bathtub.
Your provider will give you a prescription for the supplies you will need. You can buy these at a medical supply store. It will be helpful to know the name of your catheter and what company made it. Write this information down and keep it handy.
When your catheter is put in place, the nurse will give you a label that tells you the make of the catheter. Keep this for when you buy your supplies.
To change your dressings, you will need:
You will change your dressings in a sterile (very clean) way. Follow these steps:
Keep all the clamps on your catheter closed at all times. It is a good idea to change the caps at the end of your catheter (called the "claves") when you change your dressing. Your provider will tell you how to do this.
Call your provider if you:
Also call the provider if your catheter:
Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Aebersold ML, Gonzalez L. Central vascular access devices. In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold ML, eds. Clinical Nursing Skills: Basic to Advanced Skills. 9th ed. New York, NY: Pearson; 2017:chap 29.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 9/3/2018
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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