What Is a PICC Line?
A Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter, or “PICC line,” is a thin, long, soft-plastic tube that functions as an intravenous (IV) line. A PICC line allows medications and fluids to be administered to patients on a frequent basis and can remain in place for as long as IV therapy is needed.
Long-term central access to veins is essential in the management of patients with cancer, infection, and many other conditions in which repeated administration of anti-cancer drugs, antibiotics, blood products, IV fluids, or nutrients is needed. A PICC line is a safe and effective alternative to other devices used for venous access. With proper care and maintenance, a PICC line may remain in place for long periods of time with minimal risk of complications, ideal for patients with chronic diseases requiring long-term IV therapy.
PICC lines are usually inserted in the upper arm, which is cleaner than most sites where central venous lines are inserted such as the neck or groin. Use of a cleaner insertion site significantly reduces the risk of infection, with PICC lines requiring replacement less often than most other devices.
Using PICC lines to draw blood samples for testing is another benefit. Repeated skin pricks can be avoided, reducing the potential for infection and reducing pain.