This information leaflet aims to help you understand more about your PICC line and how it can be taken care of.
What is a PICC line?
A PICC line is a long, narrow flexible tube that is inserted in the arm. About 5 cm of the line will be visibly out and used as venous access to connect chemotherapy or medication. Either a single or double lumen line may be required depending upon the type of treatment.
Why do I need a PICC line?
PICC line is used to deliver chemotherapy, intravenous (IV) antibiotics, IV fluids, transfuse blood products, etc.
What happens before the PICC line is placed?
Insertion of PICC line is a minor sterile procedure done in the ward.On the day of your PICC insertion, please wear loose-fitting sleeves. A trained health care provider will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with you and also answer any questions or concerns you may have. If you wish to proceed, you will be asked to sign a consent form.
How is the PICC line inserted?
PICC line insertion can take about 30–60 minutes.Ultrasound machines will be used to locate the best vein in your arm. A small dose of local anesthesia will be given to numb the area and a PICC line is inserted using an aseptic technique. After PICC line insertion, a chest x-ray will be done to ensure the line is in the correct position.
Occasionally the PICC line insertion site may become tender and inflamed but generally disappears within a few days. If you have any further concerns please check with your healthcare team.
What are the risks associated with PICC line insertion?
Infection: There is a small risk of infection after PICC line has been inserted and may require antibiotics.
Blood clot (Thrombosis): There is a possibility of a blood clot forming in your vein and may require blood-thinning drugs.
Misplacement: The PICC line may not be in the correct position and may need to be repositioned.
Allergy: Occasionally you may develop an allergic reaction to the dressing used to secure the line. In that case, the type of dressing may need to be changed.
PICC line may come out or break: If this happens, please visit the hospital so that it can be repositioned or replaced as soon as possible.
Weekly dressing and flushing is required which needs to be done by a PICC line trained nurse. Kindly exercise your PICC line arm with a sponge ball.
Frequently asked questions
Will it be painful?
You may feel a stinging sensation as the local anesthesia is injected but this will only last for a very short period. The rest of the procedure should be pain-free and with minimum discomfort. If you feel pain please inform your healthcare provider immediately.
Can I eat before PICC line insertion?
Yes, you can eat your regular meal. Fasting conditions are not required.
Can I have a bath or shower with a PICC line?
Yes, you can take a bath. Your PICC line will be wrapped with a semi-waterproof dressing. It is advised to cover this dressing with a plastic bag or cling film while showering to reduce the risk of infection and preventing the dressing from coming off.
Can I work?
There are no restrictions on working with a PICC line in place. Please avoid heavy lifting and excessive arm movements.
What if I decide not to have the PICC line placed?
Please discuss alternative options with your doctor.
What if something is wrong with the PICC line?
Most of the PICC lines are safe. If you suspect something is wrong with your PICC line, or you develop fever more than 100 F or develop pain, redness, swelling around the site, neck, or arm, please contact us immediately.
How is the PICC line removed?
PICC line removal is pain-free. When the PICC line is no longer required anymore, it can be gently pulled out by a trained healthcare professional and a waterproof dressing is applied, which can be removed after 48 hours.
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