PICC Line Insertion

HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR THE PROCEDURE?

You will receive instructions from staff at the interventional radiologist's office at least a day before the procedure. Make sure to let the staff know if you have any allergies to medications or to contrast material that may be used to enhance x-ray imaging. You may have blood drawn for pre-procedure testing at either the hospital or clinic. Staff will advise you if changes in your regular medication schedule are necessary. You may have to avoid eating or drinking anything for several hours before the procedure. Make sure someone will be available to drive you home afterwards.

HOW DOES THE PROCEDURE WORK?

The Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is introduced through an arm vein but its tip lies in a large central vein. Typically it provides central IV access for as long as four to eight weeks. A PICC may even remain in place for three to six months, as long as it continues to work well and is not infected, but it still is considered to be a temporary catheter. The radiologist will use either image guidance by fluoroscopy or ultrasound. Because a PICC can be well cared for at home, its use often makes early hospital discharge practical.

HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PREFORMED?

For a PICC line insertion you will be taken down to the Interventional Radiology Suite where imaging guidance will help allow the radiologist to insert the catheter through an arm vein.

WHAT WILL I EXPERIENCE DURING THE PROCEDURE?

You will lie on your back during the procedure with your arm extended out to the side. The injection of local anesthetic may burn for a short time before it takes effect. You may feel some pressure or brief discomfort when the needle is placed into the vein. You will have to lay flat and hold your arm still for about 30 to 45 minutes during the catheter placement. From time to time you may be asked to move your arm or wrist to help the catheter pass through the vein.

About one hour or less is needed in the recovery room after a vascular access procedure. When discharged, you should rest at home for the remainder of the day and may resume your usual activities the following day, but should avoid lifting heavy objects. It is important that you follow any instructions given you about how to care for the puncture site and the device. You may be told that it is all right to shower after a week, using a piece of plastic wrap over the catheter insertion site, but not to swim or soak in a tub with the incision under water. Flushing the catheter at a stated interval with a heparin solution may help keep blood clots from forming and obstructing the catheter.