Central Line Inserted Central Catheter

A central catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted into a large vein. A central catheter is used to deliver medication, nutrition, IV fluids, and chemotherapy . There are different types of central catheters, including:

  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills, redness or swelling at the insertion site
    • Pain at the insertion site
    • Drainage or leakage from the catheter
    • Trouble flushing or inserting fluids into the catheter
    • Catheter loosens or falls out

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition


    A central catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted into a large vein. A central catheter is used to deliver medication, nutrition, IV fluids, and
    chemotherapy
    .

    There are different types of central catheters, including:

    • Peripherally inserted central catheter
      (PICC line)—The catheter is threaded through a vein in the arm until it reaches the larger vein close to the heart.
    • Non-tunneled central catheter—It is inserted in a large vein in the neck or leg; the tube end is outside of the skin.
    • Tunneled central catheter—It is inserted in the neck vein and tunneled under the skin. The end of the catheter is sticking out from under the skin, usually below the collarbone.
    • Port catheter—It is inserted in a shoulder or neck vein. The port is under the skin, and the catheter is tunneled into the central vein. The port is accessed by putting a needle through the skin directly into the port.
    Veins in the Arm
    IMAGE
    A peripherally inserted central catheter is threaded through a vein in the arm.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    Central catheters are inserted when patients need:

    • Long-term medication or fluids
    • Chemotherapy
    • Nutrition, but cannot get it through the digestive system
    • Repeated blood draws
    • Blood transfusions
    • IV medications when arm veins are difficult to access
    • Dialysis

    A central catheter is commonly inserted by special types of doctors called
    interventional radiologists
    or
    vascular surgeons. Once the line is in, it can be used for weeks to months.

  • Possible Complications

    Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a central catheter inserted, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

    • Bloodstream infection
      —occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream through or around the central line
    • Bleeding
    • Collapsed lung
    • Heart arrhythmias
      —changes in the way your heart beats
    • Nerve injury
    • An air bubble or part of the catheter blocks a blood vessel, causing chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and rapid heart beat
    • Blood clots in the vein or on the catheter, potentially blocking the vein
    • Blood clots in the lung

    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Smoking
    • Veins that are difficult to reach
    • Obesity
    • Broken bones
    • Infection
    • Poor blood circulation
    • Clotting or bleeding tendencies
    • Chronic diseases

    Discuss these risks with your doctor before your central catheter is inserted.