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What is a PICC Line?

The PICC may have single or multiple lumens. This depends on how many intravenous 
therapies are needed. A PICC line can be used for antibiotics, pain medicine, 
chemotherapy, nutrition, or for the drawing of blood samples. PICCs can be inserted 
by radiologists, physician assistants or certified registered nurses. They are inserted 
using ultrasound technology at the bedside. Chest radiographs are also used to 
confirm placement of the PICC tip. The entire procedure is done in the patient's 
room decreasing discomfort, transportation, and loss of nursing care.

PICCs are frequently used to obtain central venous access for patients in acute 
care, home care and skilled nursing care. Since complication risks are less with PICC 
lines, it is preferred over other forms of central venous catheters.

A PICC line is, by definition and per its acronym, a peripherally inserted central 
catheter. It is long, slender, small, flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral 
vein, typically in the upper arm, and advanced until the catheter tip terminates in a 
large vein in the chest near the heart to obtain intravenous access. It is similar to 
other central lines as it terminates into a large vessel near the heart. However, 
unlike other central lines, its point of entry is from the periphery of the body. And 
typically the upper arm is the area of choice.

Similar to a standard IV, it is inserted in the arm, and usually in the upper arm under 
the benefits of ultrasound visualization. Also, PICCs differ from peripheral IV access 
but similar to central lines in that a PICCs termination point is centrally located in 
the body allowing for treatment that could not be obtained from standard 
periphery IV access. In addition, PICC insertions are less invasive, have decreased 
complication risk associated with them, and remain for a much longer duration than 
other central or periphery access devices.