You have a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). This is a tube that goes into a vein in your arm. It will help carry nutrients and medicine into your body. It will also be used to take blood when you need to have blood tests.
These catheters are used when people need medical treatment over a long period of time.
It is normal to have a little pain or swelling around the site for 2 or 3 weeks after the catheter is put in place. Take it easy. Do not lift anything with this arm or do strenuous activity for about 2 weeks. Take your temperature at the same time each day and write it down. Call your doctor if your temperature changes.
You will learn how to take care of your catheter to keep it working correctly and to help protect yourself from infection. After some practice, it will get easier. A friend, family member, caregiver, or your doctor may be able to help you.
Your doctor will give you a prescription for the supplies you will need. You can buy these at a medical supply store. It will be helpful to know the name of your catheter and what company made it. Write this information down, and keep it handy.
You will need to rinse out your catheter after every time it is used. This is called “flushing.” Sometimes you will also need to flush it in between uses.
To flush your catheter, you will need:
You will flush your catheter in a sterile (very clean) way. Follow these guidelines:
Ask your doctor if you also need to flush your catheter with heparin. Heparin is a medicine that helps prevent blood clots.
Follow these steps to flush your catheter with heparin:
Attach the heparin syringe to your catheter, the same way you attached the saline syringe.
Dressings are special bandages that block germs and keep your catheter site dry and clean. You will learn how to change your dressings. You should change the dressing about once a week. You will need to change it sooner if it becomes loose or gets wet or dirty.
To change your dressings, you will need:
You will change your dressings in a sterile (very clean) way. Follow these steps:
Keep all of the clamps on your catheter closed at all times. It is a good idea to change the caps at the end of your catheter (called the “claves”) when you change your dressing and after blood is drawn.
It is okay to take showers and baths 7 to10 days after your catheter was put in place. When you do, make sure the dressings are secure and your catheter site is staying dry. Do not let the catheter site go under water if you are soaking in the bathtub.
Call your doctor or nurse if you:
Also call your doctor if your catheter:
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885