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Non-tunneled Central Lines
What you should know
A non-tunneled central line is a type of IV catheter. A catheter is a flexible tube used to give treatments and to take blood. A non-tunneled central line is placed into a large vein near your neck, chest, or groin.
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- The catheter may go into the wrong area or blood vessel during the procedure. Air or blood may get into the space around your lungs, causing heart or lung problems. You may get an infection where the catheter enters your body, or in your bloodstream. The catheter may break, bend, or move out of place, and not work. You may need to have the catheter removed, and a new one placed.
- Medicine may leak on your skin, causing swelling, pain and blisters. You can have bleeding, an allergy to heparin, or heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). HIT is a low number of blood platelets, which increases the risk of bleeding. You may get a blood clot in the vein where your catheter was placed. This can cause pain and swelling, and it can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot may break loose and travel to your lungs. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. This problem can be life-threatening.
- If you do not have a central line placed, you may not be able to get the medicines or treatments that you need. If medicine that harms small veins is given through a regular IV, your veins may be damaged.
The night before the procedure:
- Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
- You may need blood tests before your procedure. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location for each test.
The day of the procedure:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills.
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
- You may be given medicine to help you relax. You will get medicine to numb the area where the catheter will be inserted.
- The table may be tipped so that your head is slightly lower than your feet. Ultrasound or x-ray may be used to help guide placement of the catheter. Your caregiver will insert a needle through your skin until the needle reaches your vein. A guide wire is used to help place the catheter in your vein. A catheter that contains or is coated with germ-killing medicine may be used to help prevent infection.
- The needle and guide wire will be removed, and the catheter is left in the vein. X-ray may be used to put in the catheter so caregivers can see that it goes into the right place. Tell your caregivers if you have trouble breathing, pain, tingling or aching in your chest, ear or arm. Your caregiver can move the catheter to make this stop. Caregivers will secure the catheter to your skin using tape or stitches. A new bandage is placed over the area to keep it clean and to help prevent infection. An x-ray will be taken to make sure the catheter is in the right place.
Contact a caregiver if
- You have a fever.
- You cannot make it to your procedure on time.
- You have questions or concerns about having your catheter put in.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.