Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter
by Patricia Griffin Kellicker, BSN
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.
Reasons for Procedure
PICC lines may be used if you need:
Once the PICC line is in, it can be used for weeks to months.
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a PICC line, your doctor will review a list of possible complications which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Discuss these risks with your doctor before your PICC line is inserted.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
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:
Next, the staff will:
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:
There are also steps that you can take to reduce your risk of infection:
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Call Your Doctor TOP
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
Vascular Access Management
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Caring for your peripherally inserted central catheter. Cystic Fibrosis website. Available at: http://www.cff.org... . Accessed September 14, 2009.
Central venous catheter. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated September 1, 2009. Accessed September 14, 2009.
FAQs: Catheter-associated bloodstream infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/pdf/guidelines/BSI_largertext.pdf . Accessed January 12, 2010.
Neff D. Preventing infections during surgery: what hospital staff and patients can do. EBSCO Patient Education Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/perc-about . Updated January 2010. Accessed January 12, 2010.
Walsh K. Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) care: an overview. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=16&topicID=860 . Published August 28, 2009. Accessed September 14, 2009.
Walsh K. Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) care: insertion techniques. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=16&topicID=860 . Published August 28, 2009. Accessed September 14, 2009.
What is a PICC line and why do I need it? Vascular Access Management website. Available at: http://picclinenursing.com/picc_why.html . Accessed September 14, 2009.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 09/30/2012