PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter)

Also known as: PICC, PIC line.

What is peripherally inserted central catheter?

A PICC line or peripherally inserted central catheter (a long, thin flexible tube) is a long thin tube which is inserted into a vein in your child’s arm, leg or neck, threaded towards a large vein near the heart through which medications, nutrients, blood or other fluids can be given or from which blood can be withdrawn.

What happens during the procedure?

Using an ultrasound for guidance, a catheter is inserted by a radiologist into a vein in the arm. It is then pushed up through the vein until it is near the heart. Live X-ray (fluoroscopy) is used to guide the catheter through the vein toward the heart. Your child will typically be given intravenous sedation (or if old enough a local anesthetic may be used) and will be awake during this procedure.

Is any special preparation needed?

Your child may need to avoid food, drink or certain medications before the procedure which usually takes 30-60 minutes.

What are the risk factors?

While the procedure is considered low risk, infection, bleeding, blood clots in the vein, abnormal heart rhythm or damage to surrounding organs and tissues and allergic reactions to the x-ray dye are potential risks.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: April 06, 2021 10:19 AM

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