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:
After the PICC line is in, it can be used for weeks to months.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
What to Expect
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 take steps to reduce this risk.
During the procedure, the staff will:
Immediately After Procedure
Your arm will be checked for bleeding, drainage, and bruising.
How Long Will It Take?
About 30 minutes
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:
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Cancer Society
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Central venous catheter. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed... . Updated October 25, 2017. Accessed March 2, 2018.
FAQs: Catheter-associated bloodstream infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/bsi/BSI_tagged.pdf. Accessed March 2, 2018.
6/2/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.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.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 5/11/2013
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
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.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.