Central Line Care

Central Line Care

How Often Should I Change The Dressing?

The dressing should be changed at least 2-3 times/week If the dressing becomes wet, soiled or loose, it should be changed more frequently.

How Do I Change The Dressing?

  • Wash hands thoroughly
  • Put on examination gloves and a face mask
  • Remove the old dressing, making sure not to remove the catheter
  • Inspect catheter for kinks, cracks, or leaks. Confirm sutures remain intact. Examine skin for redness, swelling, induration, or drainage.
  • Remove the examination gloves
  • Open packages of sterile gloves, sterile gauze, Tegaderm, and betadine swabs. Put on sterile gloves
  • Clean site with betadine and allow to air dry. Then remove betadine using alcohol swabs
  • Place a sterile 2x2 inch gauze on catheter exit site
  • Apply Tegaderm to site
  • Confirm the catheter is not kinked by dressing and that the arm has good mobility with the new dressing

Catheter Maintenance

  • Catheter must be capped when not in use. Make certain caps are tight and that there are no cracks in the catheter or cap. If there is a crack, notify Angiography/Interventional Radiology immediately
  • If line also has a clamp on the catheter this should also be closed whenever line is not in use
  • The catheter should be taped to the skin so it is not going to be pulled on or damaged
  • Each lumen should be flushed at least once a day. Flush is 10cc of normal saline followed by 2 cc of heparin flush (100 units heparin per cc of normal saline).
  • Each lumen should be flushed with 10cc normal saline before use.
  • After use the catheter should be flushed with normal saline and heparin flush as described above
  • If the catheter is on continuous infusion it still should have flushing with normal saline and heparin at least once per day
  • The line can be used for blood draws. A 5 cc discard should first be removed from the line. Flushing with normal saline and heparin as described above should be done after each blood draw

Safety Precautions

  • The catheter must be capped whenever it is not in use. If catheter also has a clamp it should be used as well.
  • If catheter is partially pulled out, do not attempt to reinsert it. If catheter falls out completely, apply gentle pressure to the entry site for 10 minutes.
  • If catheter appears damaged or is leaking, it must not be used. Place a clamp near the skin entry site and call angiography/Interventional Radiology
  • Fevers, or changes at the catheter entry site such as redness, swelling, drainage, or tenderness should be reported to a physician.
  • Call Angiography/Interventional Radiology if catheter will not allow aspiration of blood.
  • Call Angiography/Interventional Radiology if arm or neck swelling develop.


For any questions or concerns:

Contact the Radiology and Medical Imaging department at 434-924-9400.