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Peripherally inserted central catheter - insertion

PICC - insertion

A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is a long, thin tube that goes into your body through a vein in your upper arm. The end of this catheter goes into a large vein near your heart. Your health care provider has determined that you need a PICC. The information below tells you what to expect when the PICC is inserted.

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What is a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC)?

The PICC helps carry nutrients and medicines into your body. It is also used to draw blood when you need to have blood tests.

A PICC is used when you need intravenous (IV) medical treatment over a long period of time or if blood draws done the regular way have become difficult.

How is a PICC Inserted?

The PICC insertion procedure is done in the radiology (x-ray) department or at your hospital bedside. The steps to insert it are:

The catheter that was inserted is connected to another catheter that stays outside your body. You will receive medicines and other fluids through this catheter.

After the Catheter is Placed

It is normal to have a little pain or swelling around the site for 2 or 3 weeks after the catheter is put in place. Take it easy. DO NOT lift anything with that arm or do strenuous activity for about 2 weeks.

Take your temperature at the same time each day and write it down. Call your provider if you develop a fever.

It is usually OK to take showers and baths several days after your catheter is placed. Ask your provider how long to wait. When you do shower or bathe, make sure the dressings are secure and your catheter site stays dry. DO NOT let the catheter site go under water if you are soaking in a bathtub.

Other Care

Your nurse will teach you how to take care of your catheter in order to keep it working correctly and to help protect yourself from infection. This includes flushing the catheter, changing the dressing, and giving yourself medicines.

After some practice, taking care of your catheter gets easier. It is best to have a friend, family member, caregiver, or nurse help you.

Your doctor will give you a prescription for the supplies you need. You can buy these at a medical supply store. It will help to know the name of your catheter and what company makes it. Write this information down and keep it handy.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if you have:

Also call your provider if your catheter:

References

Herring W. Recognizing the correct placement of lines and tubes and their potential complications: critical care radiology. In: Herring W, ed. Learning Radiology: Recognizing the Basics. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 11.

Hughes JA, Cantwell CP, Waybill PN. Peripherally inserted central catheters and nontunneled central venous catheters. In: Mauro MA, Murphy KPJ, Thomson KR, Venbrux AC, Morgan RA, eds. Image-Guided Interventions. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 118.

Mansour JC, Neiderhuber JE. Establishing and maintaining vascular access. In: Neiderhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 26.

Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold M. Central vascular access devices. In: Smith SF, Duell DJ, Martin BC, Gonzalez L, Aebersold M, eds. Clinical Nursing Skills: Basic to Advanced Skills. 9th ed. New York, NY: Pearson; 2016:chap 29.

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Review Date: 11/20/2017  

Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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