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Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters And Midline Catheters


A catheter is a small tube used to give treatments and to take blood. The catheter is guided into place through a peripheral vein in your upper arm. Peripheral veins lead from your arms and legs to your heart. A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is guided into a vein near the heart. A midline catheter is guided into a vein below the armpit.


Before your procedure:

  • Tell healthcare providers if you are allergic to latex or have any other allergies. Tell them if you had radiation or surgery on your chest, or any problems with a PICC or midline catheter.
  • You may need treatment for medical problems, such as an infection or a bleeding condition. Your healthcare provider may use an ultrasound to find your veins. He will also make sure the veins are healthy enough for a catheter. Write down the date, time, and location of each test .

The day of your procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Ask your caregiver before taking any medicine on the day of your procedure. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, or heart pills. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital.
  • 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.


What will happen:

  • A band may be tightened around your arm. This helps your healthcare provider see your veins. The band also stops blood from flowing into the vein while healthcare providers place the catheter. Your healthcare provider may give you local anesthetic (numbing medicine) in the area where your catheter will be placed.
  • Your healthcare provider will put a needle through your skin and into your vein. Healthcare providers use ultrasound or x-ray to place the catheter correctly. Tell your healthcare provider if you feel pain or tingling while the catheter is being placed.
  • The needle and sheath (covering) will be removed, and the catheter will be left in the vein. Healthcare providers may secure the catheter to your skin with tape or stitches. A new bandage will be placed over the area to keep it clean and to help prevent infection.

After your procedure:

If you have a PICC, a chest x-ray will be done to show healthcare providers the location of the catheter tip.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.
  • You get sick with a cold or flu, or you have a fever.


  • One or more attempts may be needed to place the catheter. The vein where your catheter is placed may become irritated, and your skin may get red, painful, and blister. When the catheter is put in, your vein may tear, or the catheter may injure a nerve. The area around your catheter may get infected, or you may get an infection in your bloodstream. Your catheter may get blocked, and healthcare providers may need to remove or replace it.
  • The catheter may break, bend, or move out of place. The IV medicine may leak outside your vein and cause pain, swelling, or 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 your arm. This can cause pain and swelling, and can stop blood from flowing where it needs to go in your body. The blood clot may break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. A blood clot in your lungs can cause chest pain and trouble breathing. A blood clot in your brain can cause a stroke. These problems can be life-threatening.
  • If you do not have a catheter placed, you may need to get multiple needle sticks. It may be hard for healthcare providers to give you the treatment that you need. Your condition may get worse, or you may die. Contact your healthcare provider if you are worried or have questions about having a catheter placed.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

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