Temporary Central Line Placement

Also known as: temporary central line.

What is temporary central line placement?

A temporary central line is a short-term catheter (thin tube) that is placed in a vein in the neck or the groin for a number of uses which include fluid, nutritional, medication, blood product delivery or for procedures like blood dialysis (blood filtration to remove a variety of substances). It frequently remains in place, allowing nursing to have access to a vein, for days to a week or two.

What happens during the procedure?

To place a temporary line, the surgeon/critical care physician may use ultrasound and live X-ray (fluoroscopy). Usually under local anesthesia (sometimes short term sedation may be required additionally) a needle is inserted into a vein, a guide wire is passed through the needle and the catheter is threaded over that being pushed towards the heart (into a large vein that carries blood to the heart).

The wire is removed and a small length of catheter is left on the outside of the skin which is stitched in place to prevent it from pulling out. An X-ray of the chest will then be taken to confirm correct placement of the catheter.

Is any special preparation needed? 

Depending on the particular circumstances, oral feeds may require to be discontinued; if X-rays are used jewelry or metals will need to be removed.

What are the risk factors?

Potential complications include infection, bleeding, damage to surrounding organs and tissues, air in the veins, collapse of the lungs and/or the wire/catheter breaking.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: March 04, 2021 11:45 AM

Children's Radiology

The Radiology facilities at Nicklaus Children’s are specifically designed for the comfort and diagnosis of infants, children and adolescents.

Learn More