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Perma-Cath Placement

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about a perma-cath?

A perma-cath is a catheter placed through a vein into or near your right atrium. Your right atrium is the right upper chamber of your heart. A perma-cath is used for dialysis in an emergency or until a long-term device is ready to use.

How do I prepare for perma-cath placement?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for the procedure. Your provider may tell you not to eat or drink 4 hours before your procedure. Your provider will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. Tell your provider about any medicines you are taking. You may need to stop taking blood thinners days before your procedure.

What will happen during perma-cath placement?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during the procedure. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure, but you should not feel any pain. If your healthcare provider gives you local anesthesia, you will also be given medicines to relax you.
  • Your healthcare provider will make an incision on your chest. Your provider may also make one on your neck near your jugular vein. This will help your provider direct the catheter. Your healthcare provider will tunnel the catheter under your skin on the right side of your chest. The catheter will be moved forward into your internal jugular vein. Then, your provider will move it forward until it is in or near your right atrium. An ultrasound or x-ray may be used to help guide placement of the catheter. Stitches will be placed to hold the catheter in place. The catheter will have 2 ports on the end. One port will be red and the other will be blue. A clear dressing will be placed over the catheter and the area where it goes into the skin. The ports will not be covered.

What are the risks of perma-cath placement?

You may bleed from your catheter site or get an infection. Your healthcare provider may need to put in an extra stitch to stop the bleeding. The guidewire or catheter can cut your blood vessels. Your catheter may become kinked, or you may develop a blood clot. Your catheter may come out of place or break. You may need to have your catheter replaced.

What can I expect after perma-cath placement?

You will need someone to drive you home. You may need to stay in the hospital overnight. You will have some pain and swelling on your chest and neck. You may have some bruises on your chest and neck. You may have one dressing over the incision on your chest and one over the incision on your neck. You may have steristrips under the dressing on your neck.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.