Central Venous Access

Central Venous Access

What Is A Central Venous Access Device?

It is a type of IV line that is inserted into a larger vein for long term use. The tip of this catheter is usually placed in the superior vena cava, close to your heart. A specially trained doctor, known as an Interventional Radiologist, performs this procedure.

Why Do I Need A Central Line Catheter?

  • You may need chemotherapy.
  • You may need IV antibiotics and/or pain medications.
  • You may need long term IV nutrition.
  • You may require frequent blood draws.
  • You may require dialysis or plasmapheresis.

What Sites Are Typically Used To Insert My Central Line?

  • Upper arm veins.
  • Subclavian vein in your chest.
  • Internal Jugular Vein in your neck.
  • Femoral vein in your groin.

How Do I Prepare For The Procedure?

If you are already a patient in the hospital, your doctors and nurses will provide you instructions. If you are to be admitted to the hospital or discharged home after this procedure, please follow these listed instructions:

  1. No solid food for 6 hours before your scheduled appointment.  You may have clear liquids up to 2 hours before your scheduled appointment, unless otherwise instructed.
  2. Take your medications as usual.  If you are on glucophage, insulin, or a blood thinner, contact our department as soon as possible so we can adjust the dosage of your medications.
  3. If you are allergic to x-ray or contrast dye, notify our department ASAP, so that necessary precautions can be undertaken.
  4. Bring all your medications with you on the day of the procedure.
  5. You will need someone to drive you home after the procedure.

An Angio nurse will attempt to call you 1-2 days before your scheduled appointment to review these instructions, obtain important medical information, and answer questions and concerns that you may have.

What Happens Before The Procedure?

  1. The nurse and Interventional Radiologist will talk with you about the procedure in detail, answer your questions, and ask you to sign a consent form.
  2. You will be asked to put on a hospital gown, and remove anything metal (such as jewelry) or false teeth/dentures.
  3. Your family or companion will be asked to go to our designated waiting area.
  4. An IV will be started to allow us to give you fluids, antibiotics, and pain and sedation medications.
  5. You may also need lab work done prior to the procedure.

What Happens During The Procedure?

You will be taken into our procedure room, where you will be placed on the x-ray table. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level will be watched closely.  Betadine (a brown colored soap) will be used to wash the area where the catheter will be inserted.  Lidocaine or Xylocaine (the same medication a dentist uses) will be injected to numb the skin. It will sting and burn for a few seconds before the area becomes numb.  A nurse will also be present to administer pain and sedation (something to help you relax) medications. The radiologist will use an ultrasound machine and/or x-rays to locate your veins. Next, a needle will be inserted through your skin into a vein and the catheter will be advanced into the superior vena cava.  You may feel some pressure and discomfort when the catheter is inserted.

The catheter site will be covered with a dressing. The site may ooze for the next 24 hours.  The catheter may be used immediately.

What Happens After The Procedure?

After the procedure, you will be taken to our recovery room. You may eat your usual diet, unless you are nauseated or sedated, or you are scheduled to have other tests. Once the anesthetic wears off, you may have some discomfort for a day or two. Before you are discharged from the hospital, a nurse will provide instructions and supplies on how to care for your catheter for you and/or a family member.

How Long Will I Need The Central Line?

This depends on the reason you needed the catheter.


For any questions or concerns

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