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A peripherally inserted central catheter or PICC is used to make it easier for both patients and caregivers in situations where ongoing access to a patient’s bloodstream is required. The medical device is most commonly used to provide medication, chemotherapy, nutrients or fluids, blood transfusions and in situations where ongoing blood monitoring is required.
PICC lines avoid the need for unnecessary needle pokes and insertion for ongoing IV treatments or blood drawing. Instead, caregivers such as nurses (RN), physician assistants (PA), or nurse practitioners (NP) can use the IV line over a longer course of time keeping the patient more comfortable and making treatment less invasive over time. If you wonder where a PICC line is placed, here is an overview of the process.
PICC lines are usually inserted through a vein in the upper arm to make it easier to thread it to a large central vein near the heart. PICC lines contain a temporary guidewire to provide more stability and less flexibility during the insertion process. The process to get the PICC line placed in this position is as follows:
A PICC line is typically placed in a position in the patient’s upper arm, just above the elbow. However, an assessment is made to determine whether the vein is healthy enough to support the PICC line. Another consideration is which of the patient’s arm is the most dominant. This is because it is best to place the PICC line in the nondominant arm to a) keep it more comfortable and b) reduce the risk for accidental removal.
Generally, the entire process takes up to an hour, to assess the site, insert the PICC line and confirm it is placed in the proper position.