A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is a type of long catheter that is inserted through a peripheral vein, often in the arm, into a larger vein in the body. A PICC may be used when intravenous (IV) treatment is required over a long period of time, or when multiple IV treatments are needed.
How Is a PICC Placed?
A PICC is placed by an interventional radiologist or a specially trained nurse. The procedure is performed using fluoroscopic guidance (a live x-ray). Once the catheter is in place, it is secured with sutures and covered with a sterile dressing. The dressing will need to be changed every 7 days, or as directed by your healthcare team.
What Are the Benefits of a PICC?
There are many benefits to having a PICC, including:
- Reduced risk of infection: PICCs are inserted using sterile techniques and are less likely to cause infection than other types of IV catheters.
- Fewer needle sticks: Because PICCs can stay in place for weeks or months, you will have fewer needle sticks than if you had a traditional IV catheter.
- Increased comfort: PICCs are inserted through a large vein, so they cause less discomfort than other types of IV catheters.
- Greater flexibility: PICCs can be used for many different types of IV therapies, including antibiotics, chemotherapy, and pain medication.
What Are the Risks of Having a PICC?
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with having a PICC placed. These risks include:
- Blood clots
- Phlebitis (inflammation of the vein)
- Injury to the nerves or blood vessels
- Allergic reaction to the contrast dye used during the procedure
However, these risks are rare and your healthcare team will take every precaution to minimize them.
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