- by Dr SUNIL DWIVEDI
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- Sep 07 2017
What is Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter or PICC?
A peripherally inserted central catheter or “PICC” is a narrow, soft, adjustable tube — an intravenous (IV) line. Treatments, such as intra venous medications, can be given though a PICC. Blood for laboratory tests can also be extracted from a PICC.
How is the PICC inserted?
A specially trained doctor or nurse will use an ultrasound machine to detect the veins in the upper arm.
The arm will be cleaned and covered with a sterile cloth to check infection.
Medicine is used to numb the part where the PICC will be positioned. The PICC will be slipped into a vein just above your elbow bend and lead into a large vein in your chest. Most patients feel slight or no discomfort during this process.
Once the PICC is in place, it is clutched to your arm with specific tape and covered with a sterile dressing.
A chest x-ray is taken later to ensure the PICC is in the right position.
You will be able to fold your arm and use your arm just as you would without the PICC in place.
What are the advantages of using a PICC?
A PICC is more secure compared with the many “needle sticks” that would have been needed for giving medications and extracting blood. The aim is to spare your veins from these frequent “needle sticks.”
A PICC can also free your veins and blood vessels from the troublesome effects of IV medications.
A PICC can be used in the nursing facility, hospital setting or at home and can stay in place for weeks or months, if required.
A PICC can be used for many kinds of intra venous treatments.
A PICC can be used to acquire most blood tests.
What are the possible risks during and after placement of a PICC?
There may be little discomposure during the process.
Bleeding may occur at the site of insertion.
It is sometimes essential to attempt more than once and it may not be possible to place the entire length of the PICC.
During insertion of a PICC, accidental perforation of a nerve, artery, or tendon can occur around the site of insertion. However, this is a rare occurrence.
A clot may construct around the catheter in the vein (thrombosis), which can cause pain and swelling in the arm.
Inflammation in a vein (phlebitis) can develop from the use of all kinds of IVs, including PICCs.
An infection may occur at the insertion place or in the bloodstream.
The PICC can come out, completely or partially, if not well-protected and totally covered.
The PICC can move out of place in the vein and may need to be detached or realigned.
The PICC may become obstructed. Medication may need to be used to clear it.
Are there other alternatives for receiving intra venous treatments?
Short IV catheters can be placed in the hand or arm. These require repeated changes and are not appropriate for some solutions and medications.
A central venous catheter can be placed into a vein in the upper chest, neck or groin. This kind of catheter is for short-term use (less than two weeks) and can only be used in the hospital.
There are other permanent types of catheters (Hickman and ports) that are inserted in the operation theater.
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