Glossary Entry: PICC Line (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter)


Definition: A PICC line is a long, thin, flexible tube that is inserted into a peripheral vein, typically in the arm, and advanced until the tip rests in a large central vein near the heart. It is used to deliver medication, nutrition, and fluids, as well as to draw blood for testing, over an extended period of time.

Detailed Description

Types and Variations

Variations: PICC lines come in various lengths and diameters, allowing for customization based on the patient’s needs and the intended use of the catheter. Different materials may also be used, with options for single or multiple lumens for different functions.


Common Uses: PICC lines are commonly used in patients who require long-term intravenous access, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, prolonged antibiotic therapy, parenteral nutrition, or frequent blood draws for lab testing.

Insertion and Placement

Procedure: The insertion of a PICC line involves using ultrasound guidance to locate a suitable peripheral vein in the arm. After sterilizing the insertion site, the catheter is carefully threaded through the vein and advanced into the central venous system under imaging guidance, such as X-ray or fluoroscopy.

Clinical Considerations

Potential Complications

Risks: Potential complications associated with PICC lines include infection, thrombosis (blood clots), air embolisms, and malpositioning of the catheter tip, which can lead to incorrect medication delivery or damage to the vessel wall.

Care and Maintenance

Maintenance Requirements: Proper care and maintenance of PICC lines involve regular cleaning of the insertion site, monitoring for signs of infection, and following strict aseptic techniques during medication administration and blood draws to minimize the risk of complications.

Additional Information

Related Devices

Associated Terms: In some cases, adjunctive devices such as securement devices, antimicrobial or antithrombotic catheter coatings, and infusion pumps may be used in conjunction with PICC lines to optimize their function and safety.

Innovations and Advancements

Recent Developments: Advances in PICC line technology include the development of antimicrobial impregnated catheters and ultrasound-guided insertion techniques, which have helped to reduce infection rates and improve the accuracy of placement.

Regulatory and Safety Notes

Regulations: Regulatory guidelines emphasize the importance of proper insertion and maintenance techniques, as well as the periodic assessment of PICC line necessity and appropriateness to minimize the risks associated with long-term catheter use.