Central venous catheter placement


A tube used to administer treatments such as antibiotics, chemotherapy, food supplements and blood transfusions

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Why would a central venous line be inserted?

A central venous catheter is a tube that allows your consultant to give you treatment directly into your vein. Having a central venous catheter inserted will enable you to receive treatment quickly in an emergency and means you can have treatment without the need for an injection each time.

There are different types of tubes including Hickman lines and PICC lines. a venous catheter procedure is usually done whilst you are are staying as an inpatient, but can also be done as on an outpatient basis. 

Need to know

The insertion of the line takes place in radiology, where you will need to lie on your back on an X-ray table. Your radiologist will clean the skin on your neck and chest with antiseptic and cover it with a sterile pad. They will inject a local anaesthetic.

Your radiologist will use ultrasound or X-rays to decide on the best location to insert your central venous catheter. They will make a cut in the skin near the base of your neck. Your radiologist will then insert the central venous catheter through this cut into a large vein in your neck, towards your heart. They will put stitches in your skin to hold the catheter in place and place a waterproof dressing over it. The procedure usually takes around an hour.

Let your consultant know if you are taking any medications, particularly blood thinning drugs, and if you have any allergies. You may need to have a blood test to check that your blood clots normally. You can eat a light meal before your procedure.

You will return to your ward to recover, which can take up to an hour. The central venous catheter will be ready to use immediately. If you need to have treatment through the central venous catheter for a long period of time, you may be discharged from hospital with it still in place.

You will need to keep the dressing clean and dry, and always wash your hands with soap and water before you touch the catheter. You may need to come into hospital every week to have your dressing changed and to flush out the line.

Hospital stay and procedure


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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.