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PICC Line

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Updated June 11, 2009

Definition:

A PICC line, which is an acronym for peripherally inserted central catheter, is a type of intravenous (IV) line that is used when standard IV lines are not sufficient.

A PICC line is inserted into a deep vein in the arm but it does not end there. The catheter threads all the way through the arm vein and ends below the collar bone in the superior vena cava - the large blood vessel that leads directly into the right atrium of the heart.

PICC lines can stay in place for several weeks, and sometimes even months. They are used when IV therapy is expected to last more than a few days, when medications to be given through the IV are irritating to tissues, or when access to superficial veins is difficult to obtain.

Examples:
People with cystic fibrosis sometimes require PICC lines for antibiotics or IV nutrition.
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