Central venous access catheters or vascular access catheters can be placed for many reasons, such as intravenous antibiotic treatment, frequent blood draws, chemotherapy, dialysis, plasmaphoresis, or IV feeding.
Tunneled Dialysis Catheters
Catheters used for hemodialysis are referred to as tunneled because they are placed under the skin. Cuffed tunneled catheters can be used for longer periods of time versus non-cuffed catheters. Patients receive IV sedation as well as local anesthesia for these procedures. Access for a dialysis catheter is through the jugular vein in the neck. A portion of the catheter is then placed under the skin. It is important to keep these, and any other central venous access catheters, clean and dry. Never remove the caps. You do not want air to enter the catheter.
Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters (PICC) are thin, soft, flexible tubes that are placed into a vein in the arm, above the level of the elbow. As opposed to a traditional IV line, PICC lines can remain in the body for longer periods of time. Patients can receive a number of medications through a PICC, including chemotherapy. PICC lines can also be used for blood draws, eliminating the need to stick a patient repeatedly for frequent blood tests. Local anesthesia is used at the insertion site. Sedation is not necessary for the procedure. The tip of the catheter sits just above the right side of the heart. The catheter is sutured to the skin so that it does not slip out.
This device is a catheter (long, hollow plastic tube) connected to a plastic and metal reservoir. When the catheter is placed in your chest, the catheter tip will be in a large vein in your chest. The port itself will be under the skin of your chest, below your collarbone and above your breast tissue. You will have a thin scar 1 to 2 inches long on your skin. The port and catheter cannot be seen, but you may have a small bulge in your skin where the port is. A port can stay in place for months or even years, if needed. Ports also have a lower risk of infection as compared to devices that stick out of the skin.