We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is a tube which is inserted into one of the veins in the arms and threaded into a larger blood vessel in the chest. This provides care providers with reliable venous access. Patients may be asked to get a PICC line if access will be needed for 30 days or more. Before a peripherally inserted central catheter is placed, the patient will be told why the line needs to be placed, offered alternatives if any are available, and given directions about how to care for the catheter.

A registered nurse or interventional radiologist can place a peripherally inserted central catheter. Before the procedure, medical imaging studies are used to visualize the patient's veins so that the catheter can be reliably inserted. The patient's arm is cleaned with soap and draped with sterile towels to create a clean workspace, and then the PICC line is carefully inserted and moved into position before being sutured in place.

Patients may be offered an anesthetic during the placement, since it can be uncomfortable. It is important to provide the person inserting the peripherally inserted central catheter with feedback about any sensations experienced. If numbness, tingling, and other sensations are felt, it can indicate that the catheter is not placed correctly and it may be pinching a nerve. The catheter's position can be adjusted to address this problem.

Once placed, medications such as antibiotics can be introduced through the tails on the catheter which are left exposed. The catheter can also be used to deliver fluids to the patient. Using a PICC line ensures that health care providers always have venous access and do not need to search for usable veins. It also allows for the delivery of a wide range of needed medications and fluids.

Care directions for a peripherally inserted central catheter include not bathing, swimming, or hot tubbing while the catheter is in, taping the catheter to keep it dry during showers, flushing the catheter to limit clotting, and keeping the tails covered when the catheter is not in use. If the patient experiences pain and swelling, discharge from the area around the catheter, or neurological symptoms such as tingling, they should be reported immediately to a doctor. Likewise, if the PICC line appears to be sliding out, a doctor should be consulted. The line should never be pushed back in because this can cause an infection.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.