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Vascular Access PICC Line

What is PICC Line?

PICC stands for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. It is a long, flexible catheter made of polyurethane that is inserted into a vein in your upper arm and advanced to a large blood vessel that leads to your heart called the Superior Vena Cava. Its purpose is to provide IV access for long-term medication administrations. A PICC Line can stay in for up to 1 year, but generally is ordered for several days to a few weeks.

What happens during the procedure?

Patients are brought to the Radiology Department to a procedure room that uses live X-ray called Fluoroscopy. This is used to assist with insertion and verify proper placement of the catheter tip. You will be placed on a table with your arm extended. This is a sterile procedure. Your arm will be cleaned and you will be draped from the neck down. A Radiologist or Registered Nurse specially trained in PICC Line insertion will insert your PICC Line. An ultrasound machine will be used to locate a vein in your upper arm. A small numbing injection will be given and the PICC Line will be inserted. A bandage will be placed over the insertion site. On occasion, hospital patients may have their PICC Line placed at bedside. In that case, a portable chest X-ray will be taken after the procedure. Your physician or nurse will determine which is best for you. Generally, patients do not feel pain during a PICC Line insertion.

How do I prepare for my PICC Line Insertion?

Inform the Radiologist or RN placing the PICC Line if you have a history of any of the following:

  • Pacemaker or Defibrillator
  • History of Mastectomy with Lymph Node Dissection
  • History of Blood Clots
  • History of Weakness or Paralysis Due to Stroke
  • Dialysis Fistula in Either Arm
How long will the procedure take?

The average time for completion is less than 30 minutes.


Watch for any signs or symptoms of infection such as redness, swelling of the arm, pain, fever or chills. If your PICC Line accidentally gets pulled out, secure it down with gauze and tape and contact your health care provider or the Radiology Department. Do not attempt to push the catheter back in. You may shower with your PICC Line. Clear plastic wrap is usually suggested to wrap around your arm. It is important to keep your dressing dry and intact. You will receive detailed discharge instructions on how to care for your PICC Line following the procedure.


Women should always inform their health care provider or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

If you have any questions regarding this procedure, please call 815-942-2932 ext. 7130.