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What is the process for getting a PICC line placed?

The process for getting a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line takes place in a hospital. This process begins with an ultrasound, which takes a picture of the inside of the arm. An ultrasound helps the doctor or nurse find the best vein in the arm for the PICC line.

When inserting the PICC line, the doctor and nurse will wear special clothes, including gowns, gloves and hats, to keep germs from getting inside the PICC line. People getting a PICC will also have a sheet covering them with a small hole where the PICC line goes into their arm. The doctor or nurse will use antiseptic to get rid of any germs on the skin. 

A local anesthetic will be used on the skin to numb it. Then the PICC line is put through the skin into a vein. A needle is used to put the PICC line in. This might feel a bit uncomfortable, but it won’t hurt because of the local anesthetic. Once the PICC line is in, the needle comes out and the tube is left inside the arm. A dressing—like a big bandage—will be put over the PICC line to keep it clean and dry. After that, a quick x-ray will be taken to make sure that the PICC line is in the right place. PICC lines are not permanent, and will be removed once therapy is done.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.