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Tunneled Central Lines


A tunneled central line is a type of long-term IV catheter. A catheter is a flexible tube used to give treatments and to take blood. You can see the catheter under your skin before it enters a vein near your heart. You will need to flush and care for your central line as directed.

Tunneled Central Venous Access Device


Before your surgery:

  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon if you have a history of problems with blood clotting. Tell him or her if you have had a central line before.
  • You may need to have an ultrasound or other tests before having the central line placed.

The day of your surgery:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers 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.
  • Take only the medicines your surgeon told you to take.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you about medicines to keep you asleep or to numb the area. Tell him or her if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia.
  • You may be given sedative medicine to help you remain calm and relaxed during surgery.


What will happen:

  • The table may be tipped so that your head is slightly lower than your feet. Your surgeon will insert a needle through your skin until the needle reaches your vein. Ultrasound or x-ray may be used to help guide placement of the catheter. A guide wire will be 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 will stay in the vein. Your surgeon will secure the catheter to your skin with tape or stitches. A new bandage will be placed over the area to keep it clean and help prevent infection.


  • You get sick with a cold or flu, or you have a fever.


  • When the catheter is put in, your vein may tear, or the catheter may injure a nerve. The catheter may go into the wrong area or blood vessel during surgery. Air or blood may leak into the space around your lungs and cause heart or lung problems. 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.
  • Medicine may leak on your skin 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 develop a blood clot. The blood clot may break loose and travel to your lungs. This can be life-threatening.

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.

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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.

Learn more about Tunneled Central Lines (Precare)

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Further information

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