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Treatment / Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC)

A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) is a long, thin, flexible tube (catheter) that is placed into one of the large veins of your arm, above the bend of your elbow. Some PICCs divide into 2 or 3 different lines allowing you to receive different treatments at the same time. PICC lines can stay in place within your vein for days or weeks depending on your individual venous access needs.

Am I a Candidate for a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter?

When you come in to discuss a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC), your doctor will look at your medical history and may perform diagnostic testing. The risks and benefits of vascular access should be matched to the medical needs and condition of each individual patient. For certain patients, PICC lines are the safest method to deliver infusion therapy.

A PICC can be used for many types of IV treatments or to obtain blood for laboratory testing. This is more comfortable compared to the many needle sticks that would have been needed for giving medications and drawing blood. The goal of the procedure is to spare your veins from these frequent needle sticks.

A PICC can also spare your veins and blood vessels from the irritating effects of IV medications and can be used at home.

What to Expect from the Procedure

The PICC insertion is either done in the radiology department or at your hospital bedside. Your doctor or nurse will use ultrasound to identify and locate the veins in your upper arm. To prevent infection, your arm will be scrubbed and covered with a sterile drape. A local anesthetic will numb the area where the PICC is to be placed. The catheter will be inserted into a vein just above the bend of your elbow and the tip will be guided into your superior vena cava (SVC), a large vein in your chest.

Once the PICC line is in place, it is secured to your arm with tape and covered wit a sterile dressing. A chest x-ray is taken afterwards to verify that the tip of the PICC is in the proper location.


PICC line placement is usually performed as an outpatient procedure and lasts less than an hour. Afterwards, you will rest in a recovery area for a short while before being sent home. Most patients are able to return to normal activities the next day.

As with any procedure there are risks associated with placing a PICC line:

  • Bleeding or inflection at the insertion site
  • Rarely, an accidental puncture of an artery, nerve or tendon can occur
  • Clot may form around the catheter in the vein (thrombosis) causing pain and swelling
  • Inflammation in your vein (phlebitis) can develop
  • Blockage requiring medication to clear
  • Movement/migration of the catheter

Again, there are many options for patients requiring long term vascular access. Your physician will help you decide which is right for you. Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 for more information.

* This information about Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters was reviewed by Dr. Jason R. Bauer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below.

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We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

We would like to thank you for the trust you have given us over the years, participating in your healthcare needs has been a privilege.

To assist in a smooth transition to a new provider, you may access your records from your MyHealth account or request a copy of medical records by clicking the link below and completing the Release of Information form.

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Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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