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.
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 take steps to reduce this risk.
During the procedure, 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 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.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.