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Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC)

  • Posted on- Apr 16, 2018
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What is a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC)?

A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is a thin, soft, flexible tube — an intravenous (IV) line. Treatments, such as IV medications, can be given through a PICC. Blood for laboratory tests can also be withdrawn from a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC).

How is a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) inserted?

  • A specially trained nurse or doctor will use an ultrasound machine to find the veins in the patient’s upper arm.
  • The patient’s arm will be cleaned and covered with a sterile cloth to prevent infection.
  • Medicine is used to numb the area where the PICC will be placed. The peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) will be inserted into a vein just above the bend of the patient’s elbow and guided into a large vein in his chest. Most patients feel little or no discomfort during this procedure.
  • Once the peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is in place, it is held to the patient’s arm with special tape and covered with a sterile dressing.
  • A chest x-ray is taken afterwards to make sure the peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is in the right place.
  • The patient will be able to bend his arm and use his arm just as he would without the peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) in place.

What are the benefits of using a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC)?
  • A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is more comfortable as compared to the many “needle sticks” that would have been needed for giving medications and drawing blood. The goal is to spare the patient’s veins from these frequent “needle sticks.”
  • A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) can also spare the patient’s veins and blood vessels from the irritating effects of IV medications.
  • A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) can be used in the hospital setting, nursing facility, or at home and can stay in place for weeks or months if needed.
  • A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) can be used for many types of IV treatments.
  • A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) can be used to obtain most blood tests.

What are the risks during and after placement of a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC)?
  • There may be slight discomfort during the procedure.
  • Bleeding may occur at the insertion site.
  • It is sometimes necessary to attempt more than once and it may not be possible to insert the entire length of the peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC).
  • At the time of insertion of a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC), accidental puncture of an artery, nerve, or tendon can occur near the insertion site. However, this is a rare event.
  • A clot may form around the catheter in the vein (thrombosis), which can cause swelling and pain in the arm.
  • Inflammation of a vein (phlebitis) can develop from the use of all types of IVs, including PICCs.
  • An infection may occur at the insertion site or in the bloodstream.
  • The peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) may come out partially or completely, if not well-secured and completely covered.
  • The peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) can move out of position in the vein and may need to be removed or repositioned.
  • The peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) may become blocked. Medication may need to be used to clear it.

Which are the different tests that should be performed before peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC)?

Some of the different tests which should be performed before peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) are:
  1. X-rays
  2. CT Scans
  3. Ultrasound

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