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Central Line

A central line, also known as a central venous catheter, is a medical device that is inserted through the skin and into a large vein in the body, typically in the neck, chest, or groin. It is used to administer medications, fluids, and blood products, as well as to monitor central venous pressure, which can indicate fluid status and heart function.

There are many different Central Lines that I explain here. 

The procedure to insert a central line typically takes around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the location and complexity of the placement. It is performed by a trained medical professional, such as an interventional radiologist, surgeon, or other specialist.

A local anesthetic is used to numb the area where the central line will be inserted, so the procedure itself is generally not painful. However, some people may experience mild discomfort or pressure during the insertion.

Common diagnoses for which a central line may be used include:

  1. Cancer, especially for patients undergoing chemotherapy or other intravenous cancer treatments.

  2. Infection, such as sepsis or endocarditis, where intravenous antibiotics or other medications are needed for an extended period of time.

  3. Heart failure, where central venous pressure monitoring and/or intravenous medication administration may be necessary.

  4. Kidney failure, where hemodialysis requires repeated access to the bloodstream.

  5. Nutritional support, where parenteral nutrition (intravenous feeding) may be necessary for patients who cannot eat or absorb food normally.

Possible Complications:

  • Damage to central veins

  • Pulmonary, or lung, complications - getting a blood clot around the catheter that moves to the lung

  • Cardiac, or heart, complications - irritation of the right atrium or SVC from the line

  • Device dysfunction

  • Infection

Introduction to Central Lines MaineHealth

See Example Instructions for Central Line/PICC Care

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