Putting in a PICC line

PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter)

A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC line) is a long, thin and flexible tube (catheter). We can put this tube into a vein in your upper arm to:

  • give you antibiotics, other medicines, fluids or liquid food (nutrition) directly into the vein (intravenously)
  • take blood samples for testing

If you need a hoist (piece of medical equipment to help lift or move you safely), transport or a translator, please contact the interventional radiology (IR) department in advance.

During the procedure

If you are an outpatient (not staying in hospital), please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment to allow time to prepare.

The procedure to put in a PICC line takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

What happens during the procedure

  1. The nurse specialist or doctor scans your arm with an ultrasound machine to see inside the arm. This helps them to choose the right size and type of vein for inserting the PICC line.
  2. We clean your arm with antiseptic solution and cover it with a sterile cloth.
  3. The nurse or doctor injects a local anaesthetic medicine. This makes the area where we put in the PICC line numb.
  4. To make the PICC line secure, we put a clear, breathable dressing on the area. We also use a sticky locking device (StatLock® device) to make sure that the PICC line stays in place.
  5. We do a chest X-ray to confirm that the tip of the PICC line is in the right position.

How the procedure feels

The local anaesthetic medicine makes the area where we put in the PICC line numb. You can feel some pressure on this area during the procedure but should not have any pain.

Resource number: 4256/VER4
Last reviewed: August 2023
Next review due: August 2026

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