Glossary Entry: Central Line Catheter


Definition: A central line catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted into a large vein, typically in the neck, chest, or groin. It is used to administer medication, fluids, nutrients, or to draw blood for medical tests.

Detailed Description

Types and Variations

Variations: Central line catheters can come in various types, such as tunneled catheters or peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC lines), each with specific applications and insertion techniques.


Common Uses: Central line catheters are commonly used for long-term intravenous treatments, chemotherapy, prolonged antibiotic therapy, and in patients who require frequent blood draws or hemodialysis.

Insertion and Placement

Procedure: Insertion of a central line catheter must be done under sterile conditions. The Seldinger technique is often used, involving the insertion of a needle and guidewire into the vein, followed by catheter placement over the guidewire.

Clinical Considerations

Potential Complications

Risks: Potential complications with central line catheters include infection, bloodstream clots, catheter malfunction, and pneumothorax during insertion.

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance Requirements: Central line catheters require regular cleaning and dressing changes to prevent infection. Flushing with heparin or saline may also be necessary to maintain patency.

Additional Information

Related Devices

Associated Terms: Accessories for central line catheters may include catheter securement devices, extension sets, and infusion pumps.

Innovations and Advancements

Recent Developments: Recent innovations in central line catheter technology have focused on decreasing infection rates and improving ease of use.

Regulatory and Safety Notes

Regulations: It is important to follow strict aseptic techniques and adhere to institutional protocols for the insertion and care of central line catheters to prevent complications and ensure patient safety.