What to Expect When PICC Lines and Midlines Are Placed

What to Expect When PICC Lines and Midlines Are Placed
In my last column, I reviewed the different types of IV access available when you’re a hard stick for traditional IVs. I’ve had them all and will share my experiences about what to expect, along with some care tips. PICC lines and midlines Peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) lines are great for long-term medications that likely will be ended within a few months. I’ve actually had 19 PICC lines! Mine were placed for a few reasons including long-term IV antibiotics, IV steroids, and for my longer hospital stays because of how hard an IV stick I am. When any type of specialized line is placed, it needs to be done in a sterile environment. If receiving one as an inpatient, typically a hospital room will suffice. As an outpatient, they typically can be placed at a day surgery center or in interventional radiology. I suggest wearing loose, comfortable clothes. First, a patient lies down on a table and the nurse technician brings a machine that scans for the most promising vein for a PICC line to enter. The technician marks the spot, then measures the distance from the dot to the shoulder, then to the neck and down to the heart. Technicians need this measurement to cut the PICC line to length. Next, the technician will clean the patient's arm with iodine to disinfect the area. A sterile drape is placed across the body to limit any exposure to the arm during the procedure. The nurse also has to gown up. The technician will then administer a few tiny shots containing numbing medicine. Although this medicine stings, trust me, you want this! After the numbing shots, mostly all one feels is pressure and the technician touching the arm. Toward the end of the procedure, the technician will tell the patient to turn their head as if trying to put th
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