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A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC), or PICC line, is a catheter that is placed in the antecubital vein (a large vein in the inner elbow area). It is threaded through the vein into or near the right atrium of the heart.
A PICC can be inserted by an IV nurse, rather than a surgeon. It can stay in place for many weeks or months, which avoids the need for a new IV every few days. PICCs can be used to deliver chemotherapy, antibiotics, blood products, other medicines and intravenous nutrition.
To access the PICC, an IV line is connected to the end of the catheter. When the PICC is not in use, the IV is disconnected and the catheter is flushed and capped.
A peripherally inserted central catheter is used when:
There are many benefits to having a PICC rather than a regular IV. The most important benefit is that it reduces the number of needle sticks. However, it is important not to tell children that having a PICC means they will never have to be “poked” again, since they may still need needle sticks for some blood tests.
A nurse or doctor places a PICC in a procedure room. Generally, adults and older children will be awake for the procedure. Small children may be sedated if necessary.
When the person needs IV therapy, the IV tubing is connected to the end of the catheter outside the body. The fluid or medicine flows through the IV tubing into the catheter, then into the bloodstream. After treatment is over, the IV tubing is removed and a new cap is placed on the end of the catheter.
Possible complications of a PICC include:
While the person receives an IV solution through the PICC:
The PICC needs care to prevent problems. The person will be taught how to:
The PICC will be removed when IV therapy is no longer needed. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area at the catheter exit site.
Call the doctor if:
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