Central line

From WikiMD's Wellness Encyclopedia

Central Venous Catheter (CVC), commonly referred to as a central line, is a tube that is inserted into a patient's large vein, typically in the neck, chest, arm, or groin. The central line is used for various medical purposes, including administering medication or fluids that cannot be taken by mouth, accessing the bloodstream for blood tests, and measuring central venous pressure, which is an indicator of circulatory health.

Indications[edit | edit source]

Central lines are indicated for several medical conditions and treatments, including:

  • Administration of medications that are caustic to the veins, such as chemotherapy.
  • Long-term intravenous antibiotics or total parenteral nutrition.
  • Frequent blood draws for laboratory testing, especially in critically ill patients.
  • Hemodialysis.
  • Management of patients with difficult peripheral venous access.

Types of Central Venous Catheters[edit | edit source]

There are several types of central venous catheters, including:

Procedure[edit | edit source]

The insertion of a central line is a sterile procedure performed under local anesthesia. The specific steps can vary depending on the type of catheter and insertion site but generally include:

  • Pre-procedure patient assessment and preparation.
  • Ultrasound or fluoroscopy guidance to visualize the vein and guide catheter placement.
  • Insertion of the catheter into the vein, followed by securing the catheter in place and dressing the insertion site.

Risks and Complications[edit | edit source]

While central lines are essential for certain medical treatments, they come with risks, including:

  • Infection, particularly bloodstream infections.
  • Thrombosis or blood clots.
  • Air embolism.
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung) during insertion.
  • Catheter malposition.

Care and Maintenance[edit | edit source]

Proper care and maintenance of a central line are crucial to prevent complications. This includes regular site cleaning, dressing changes, and monitoring for signs of infection or other issues.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Central venous catheters are vital tools in modern medicine, allowing for the administration of treatments that would otherwise be impossible and providing critical access to the vascular system for monitoring and treatment. However, their use requires careful consideration of the risks and diligent care and maintenance to prevent complications.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD