A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC), also called a PICC line, is a long, thin tube that's inserted through a vein in your arm and passed through to the larger veins near your heart. Very rarely, the PICC line may be placed in your leg. This gives your doctor access to the large central veins near the heart. It's generally used to give medications or liquid nutrition. A PICC line can help avoid the pain of frequent needle sticks and reduce the risk of irritation to the smaller veins in your arms. A PICC line requires careful care and monitoring for complications, including infection and blood clots. If you're considering a PICC line, discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor.
Your doctor might recommend a PICC line if your treatment plan requires frequent needle sticks for medicine or blood draws. A PICC line is usually intended to be temporary and might be an option if your treatment is expected to last up to several weeks.
A PICC line is commonly recommended for:
Once your PICC line is in place, it can be used for other things, too, such as blood draws, blood transfusions, and receiving contrast material before an imaging test.
This is only one type of catheter used to access the large veins in your chest (central venous catheter). Examples of other types of central venous catheters include implantable ports and central lines.
To prepare for your PICC line insertion, you might have:
The procedure to insert the PICC line takes about an hour and can be done as an outpatient procedure, meaning it won't require a hospital stay. At Sidney Regional Medical Center a specially trained, PICC certified nurse uses imaging technology such as an ultrasound to help guide the procedure. PICC line insertion can be done by a nurse, doctor, or another trained medical provider.
If you're staying in the hospital, the procedure might be done in your hospital room.
PICC line complications can include:
Some complications can be treated so that your PICC line can remain in place. Other complications might require removing the PICC line. Depending on your situation, your doctor might recommend placing another PICC line or using a different type of central venous catheter.
Contact your doctor right away if you notice any signs or symptoms of PICC line complications, such as if: