Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC)

A PICC is a long, thin flexible tube that is put into a vein in your arm and threaded up into a larger vein just above your heart.

How do I prepare for my PICC?

You do not need to do any preparation.

How is a PICC used?

A PICC is used for the infusion of IV fluids, medications, IV nutrition and contrast studies within Diagnostic Imaging.

How long can I keep my PICC in?

A PICC may be left in a vein for several weeks to months, depending on the type of therapy prescribed. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this with you.

How is a PICC put in? 

A health care practitioner will put in your PICC Line. This procedure usually takes less than one hour.

You will be asked to lie down on an X-ray table and your arm will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. 

The health care practitioner will wash her/his hands and dress in a sterile gown, gloves and mask. The health care practitioner will cover your arm and surrounding area with sterile cloths. 

An ultrasound machine will be used to find a vein in your arm that is suitable for the PICC. 

The health care practitioner will then:

  • Inject some freezing into your skin, which will sting a little.
  • Place a small needle into the vein.
  • Use an X-ray machine to see how long the PICC needs to be so it sits just above your heart.
  • Cut the PICC to the right length and insert.

After the PICC is inserted, the X-ray machine will be moved over your chest to take an X-ray. This is done to ensure the PICC Line tip is in the correct position in your chest. 

Your arm will then be cleaned and a dressing will be placed over the PICC Line site.

How do I care for my PICC?

A health care practitioner from Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) or Home Care will call you to discuss how to look after your PICC.

Your PICC needs to be flushed regularly with a solution that will be prescribed by  your doctor.

Your PICC Line dressing will be changed by the CCAC or Home Care nurse.   

Showering and Bathing with your PICC

  • Never immerse PICC in water
  • Cover the entire dressing and PICC with a waterproof cover before shower/bath.

The X-Ray Department offers a waterproof sleeve for purchase. Please ask a Diagnostic Imaging staff for further information.

Please check with your nurse or doctor for additional recommendations.

Possible concerns
What to look for 
What do I do? 
How can I prevent it? 
Your skin is red, sore, or swollen around the PICC  Call your doctor or nurse  Keep your dressing dry.  Always wash your hands before touching the PICC 
Swelling of your vein 
Your arm is swollen, stiff, or sore  Call your doctor right away   
The PICC is falling out
Your PICC is part way or all the way out of your vein  Call your doctor or nurse. If the PICC has come all the way out, press down on the site for about five minutes. Tape the PICC line where it is  Make sure your dressing isn't loose. Do not pull on the PICC. 
Blood clot
Your hand, arm or neck is swollen and red on the side that has the PICC.  Call your doctor or nurse right away. The PICC should not be used.   

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