PICC Lines (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter)
What is a PICC line? A Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) Line is a type of IV catheter inserted into the large vein in the upper arm for long-term IV therapy. The purpose is to provide ongoing access to this large vein that flows quickly to the heart. The catheter hub contains up to three color-coded lumens to signify blood products or medication delivery. There are many benefits to PICC lines vs. other IV catheter lines. The primary one is its fast connection to the heart. This line ensures the medication efficiently reaches the entire system. Secondly, the catheter tubing is long and thin for ongoing access to the vein without repeated needle sticks. This design improves patient comfort and prevents potential needle stick injuries and vein damage. Thirdly, a PICC line allows the patient to go home with it comfortably secured to receive home care IV therapy.
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PICC Line Uses
- Cancer Treatment - infuses chemotherapy drugs through the vein. A PICC line for chemo is an alternate path to a portacath, a port implanted into the chest.
- Medication Treatment - involves other medications a patient may need in addition to chemotherapy or antibiotics. A benefit to the infusion via a large vein is it has a greater blood supply over a small vein and therefore the blood sufficiently dilutes the medication to not irritate the vessel wall.
- Antibiotics Infection Treatment - is administered when there is a severe infection that oral antibiotics can't treat. A PICC line for antibiotics quickly transfers the medication to the tissues and maintains access to the antibiotic regimen.
- Liquid IV Nutrition Treatment - provides liquid nutrition to the body when the patient can't digest food. The patient can receive intermittent parenteral nutrition and medication therapy.
PICC Line Accessories
Vitality Medical supplies a variety of products to support IV therapy. These complementary products support the PICC line to reduce the risk of occlusion and infection.
- Securement Dressing - is a two-in-one product to dress the site and secure the catheter. It features a breathable barrier that holds the catheter and covers it to protect against potential pathogens. The barrier window removes excess moisture and makes the catheter site visible to watch for infection.
- PICC Catheter Stabilization Device - is specifically designed to secure the IV catheter to improve catheter indwelling. An example that's available for purchase is the StatLock PICC Plus. It's shaped like a wing with foam anchoring pads to adhere to the skin. Above at its center are posts to fit PICC line housing.
- PICC Dressing Change Tray - contains industry-standard supplies for changing a PICC line. The items are packaged sterile in a single try to add convenience, reduce waste, and increase personnel productivity with staff not searching for individual items.
- Waterproof Protector - is worn over the PICC line catheter to prevent infection when swimming, showering, or bathing. Purchase the Dry Pro PICC Protector that gives a confident vacuum seal.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between an IV and PICC line?
A peripheral IV line inserts the catheter at the forearm for short-term IV therapy. A PICC line inserts into the largest vein in the upper arm. The catheter remains for up to 18 months.
How serious is a PICC line?
This catheter style designates long-term therapy and the need for faster delivery of medication. Because it remains in place longer, it requires careful monitoring of the site to detect infection and blood clots.
What is the alternative to a PICC line?
A Central Venous Catheter (CVC) is a y-shaped tube inserted in a central vein for long-term IV treatment. An advantage of using a PICC line would be for individuals receiving outpatient care.
Can a patient shower with a PICC line?
Yes, but it is recommended to place the pump in a clean, sealable bag or wear a waterproof protector like the Dry Pro PICC Protector.
What activities should a patient avoid while wearing a PICC line?
Avoid activities with excessive arm movement or requiring heavy lifting that can compromise the insertion site.
What do the colors on a PICC line mean?
The types of PICC lines or colors of lumens designate its use. Brown or purple lumen designates blood sampling or administering blood products. White lumen is for medication and IV fluid delivery.