A CVAD is a thin, flexible tube. It's also called a central line. It is used when a person needs to receive medicine, fluids, nutrients, or blood products for several weeks or more. It's often placed in the neck, chest, or arm.
CVADs are used to:
A CVAD may be used to draw blood for tests only if another vein, such as in the hand or arm, can't be used.
It may also be used to check blood flow in the heart and body.
There are several types of CVADs.
A peripherally inserted central catheter, or PICC line (say "pick"), is a CVAD inserted into a vein in the arm rather than a vein in the neck or chest.
This type of catheter is surgically inserted into a vein in the neck or chest and passed under the skin. One end of the catheter remains outside the skin. Medicines can be given through an opening in this end of the catheter. Passing the catheter under the skin helps keep it in place better, lets you move around easier, and makes it less visible.
This type is similar to a tunneled catheter but is left entirely under the skin. Medicines are injected through the skin into the catheter. Some implanted ports contain a small reservoir that can be refilled in the same way. After being filled, the reservoir slowly releases the medicine into the bloodstream. An implanted port is less obvious than a tunneled catheter and requires very little daily care. It has less impact on a person's activities than a PICC line or a tunneled catheter.
Possible risks from the use of a CVAD include:
You can take the following steps at home to care for your CVAD.
This can help prevent infection. When you shower, cover the site with waterproof material, such as plastic wrap. Be sure you cover both the exit site and the central line cap(s).
This can prevent it from pulling or dangling.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.