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Removal of a Central Line, Picc, or Midline Catheter


What you need to know about removal of a central line, PICC, or midline catheter:

Your central line, PICC, or midline catheter may be removed if your treatment is complete or there is a complication. A healthcare provider will remove it.

How the line or catheter will be removed:

  • Stitches or devices securing the line or catheter will be removed.
  • Your healthcare provider may ask you to exhale forcefully while it is being removed. This will help prevent an air bubble from entering your blood vessel.
  • Pressure will be placed on the site for about 30 seconds. Then a bandage will be placed over the site. You will be asked to stay seated or to lie down for at least 30 minutes after removal. This allows healthcare providers to watch for problems.

What to expect after removal:

Your healthcare providers will teach you how to clean and care for the line or catheter site. You will be taught how to prevent infections and other serious problems. You will need to watch for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, pus, or a fever.

Risks of a central line, PICC, or midline catheter removal:

An air bubble can travel to your brain, heart, or lungs. Rarely, it can cause a heart attack or stroke, or cause you to stop breathing.

Call your local emergency number (911 in US) if:

  • You have trouble breathing.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your site begins to bleed.
  • You have severe pain and numbness in your arm or leg that the line or catheter was in.

Call your doctor if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have redness and swelling at the line or catheter site.
  • The line or catheter site is draining pus or has a foul odor.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Manage the line or catheter site:

  • Leave the bandage in place for at least 24 hours, or as directed. Change the bandage if it gets wet or dirty.
  • You may need to remove the first bandage. Clean the area with soap and water. Pat the area dry. Then put a clean bandage on as directed.
  • If you have an incision, keep it dry until it is completely healed.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

If you have stitches, you may need to return to have them removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

Further information

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