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Health Information Center

Central Line Inserted Central Catheter

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Central Line Inserted Central Catheter


A central catheter is a long, thin tube inserted into a large vein. The vein may be in the neck, arm, shoulder, or leg.

Veins in the Arm.

A peripherally inserted central catheter is threaded through a vein in the arm.

BU00002_105433_1.jpghttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=79007900BU00002_105433_1.jpgArm veinsNULLjpgBU00002_105433_1.jpgNULL\\hgfiler1\intellect\images\BU00002_105433_1.jpgNULL105NULL2009-10-055403237900_550138360215Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

Central catheters are inserted to give:

Once the central line is in, it can be used for weeks to months.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Long term diseases such as bleeding problems, diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, excess bleeding, or discharge at the insertion site
  • Pain at the insertion site
  • Trouble flushing or inserting fluids into the catheter
  • A loose catheter—or one that falls out

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

Prior to Procedure

The care team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
  • Fasting before the procedure, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Whether you need a ride to and from the procedure




  • Central venous catheter. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/procedure/central-venous-catheter.
  • FAQs: Catheter-associated bloodstream infections. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hai/pdfs/bsi/BSI_tagged.pdf.
  • Saugel B, Scheeren TWL, et al. Ultrasound-guided central venous catheter placement: a structured review and recommendations for clinical practice. Crit Care. 2017;21(1):225.
  • Vascular access procedures. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/vasc_access.


  • Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.