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Midline Catheter in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about midline catheters?

A midline catheter is a small tube used to give treatments and to take blood samples. The catheter is inserted into a vein in your child's arm. The end of a midline, inside your child's body, does not go past the top of his or her armpit. A midline catheter can stay in place for up to 30 days.

How is a midline catheter placed?

  • Your child will get local anesthesia to numb the area. The catheter will be put into a vein. It will be guided up until the tip is in a vein near his or her armpit. The other end of the catheter will stay outside your child's body.
  • The catheter will be secured to your child's skin with a dressing. The dressing holds it in place, keeps it clean, and helps prevent infection. The dressing will be clear so you can check the insertion site for signs of infection.
  • Healthcare providers will watch for problems during the midline catheter placement. Your child could have bleeding when the catheter is inserted. An infection could develop at the insertion site. An infection that enters the bloodstream can cause serious illness.

What will healthcare providers teach me and my child about the midline catheter?

  • Supplies you need to keep on hand to use, care for, and flush the catheter
  • How to use the catheter, and when to keep it clamped
  • How and when to flush and care for the catheter
  • Problems that may develop, such as a hole in the catheter, and what to do to fix the problems
  • How to bathe and do daily activities with a midline catheter in place
  • How to prevent infections
  • Signs and symptoms of an infection to watch for and what to do if an infection develops

How can an infection be prevented?

The area around the catheter may get infected, or your child may get an infection in his or her bloodstream. A bloodstream infection is called a catheter-related bloodstream infection (CRBSI). A CRBSI is caused by bacteria getting into the bloodstream through the catheter. This can lead to severe illness. The following are ways to prevent an infection:

  • Wash your hands and your child's hands often. Use soap or an alcohol-based hand rub. Clean your hands before and after you touch the catheter or the catheter site. Remind anyone who cares for your child's catheter to wash his or her hands. Teach your child not to handle or play with the catheter.
  • Limit contact with the catheter. Do not touch or handle your child's catheter unless you need to care for it. Do not pull, push on, or move the catheter when you clean his or her skin or change the dressing. Wear clean medical gloves when you touch the catheter or change dressings.
  • Keep the area covered and dry. Keep a sterile dressing over the catheter site. Wrap the insertion site with plastic and seal it with medical tape before your child bathes. Have your child take showers instead of baths. Do not let your child swim or soak in a hot tub.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.