Central Venous Catheters
Central Venous Catheters
A central venous catheter is a device that allows health professionals to give medicines, fluids and blood products into a large central vein leading directly into your child's heart.
Key points to remember about central venous catheters
- a central venous catheter (CVC) is sometimes called a 'central line'
- it is a device that allows health professionals to give medicines, fluids and blood products into a large central vein leading directly into your child's heart
What is a central venous catheter?
A central venous catheter (CVC) (sometimes called a 'central line') is a device that provides entry from outside the body to a large central vein leading directly into the heart.
Doctors and nurses use a CVC to give chemotherapy and other medicines, nutritional fluids, intravenous fluids and blood products. Doctors and nurses can also use a CVC to withdraw samples of blood for testing. A CVC remains in place for the duration of treatment unless it is a temporary catheter.
There are 3 types of central venous catheter:
Read about semi-permanent external venous catheters
- PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter)
Read about temporary external venous catheters
Which central venous catheter will my child have?
The device type will depend on your child's age and type of treatment. Your child's healthcare team will talk to you about which one will suit your child best.
Ask your nurse for details about the CVC selected for your child.
Is it painful to have a central venous catheter or PICC inserted or removed?
A doctor or nurse will put in external and subcutaneous catheters under a general anaesthetic in the operating theatre. Your child will be asleep and will feel nothing while the insertion procedure is taking place.
A doctor or nurse may also put in a peripherally inserted central catheter (known as PICC or PIC line) under a general anaesthetic in the operating theatre. Or, they may put it in on the ward while using a local anaesthetic.
There may be some pain during the first 1 or 2 days after insertion. An anaesthetist or another doctor may prescribe pain-relieving medicine (analgesics) to make sure your child is comfortable.
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This page last reviewed 10 June 2021.
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