Need to Know
- If you take blood thinners, such as Coumadin, or other medications, your doctor may instruct you to stop taking your medication for a period of time before the procedure
- Inform your physician if you are pregnant
- Inform your physician of any allergies to contrast material
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does It Work?
Under the guidance of fluoroscopy (a type of X-ray that can see motion in real time), your doctor will locate the vein in your arm and insert a small needle. Your doctor will then feed a small guide wire through the vein to the superior vena cava. Once the wire is in place, a catheter is inserted over the guide wire and moved into position. The specific length of the catheter is then determined based on your body habitus. The guide wire is then removed, and the external portion is secured to your arm.
What Happens — Before, During, and After?
When you arrive for your procedure, a member of our clinical team will greet you and bring you into an exam room. You will be asked to empty your bladder and change into a gown.
The technologist will bring you into the procedure room and position you on the table. Using the guidance of Ultrasound, your doctor will find the appropriate location to insert the PICC line. Your doctor will numb the area with a local anesthetic.Once the area is numb, your doctor will make a very small nick, and you may feel some pressure as the guide wire and catheter are inserted, but you won’t feel any serious discomfort.
Once the catheter is in place the wire will be removed. Pressure will be applied to stop any potential bleeding and the catheter will be taped in place on your arm. You will not need stitches. The procedure usually takes 30 to 40 minutes. When you feel ready you will be able to go home.
You may feel some discomfort after the procedure. This can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain medications. Please tell your doctor if you experience any swelling or major discomfort or develop a fever.
How Should I Prepare?
There are things you can do to make your experience more comfortable, and many of these will depend on your individual preferences. You might like to keep a list of questions or — as you’re doing now — educate yourself about the procedure.
Some other things to keep in mind in planning for this procedure include:
- Your doctor may ask you to stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or blood thinners (such as Coumadin or warfarin) for a time before the procedure.
- When you arrive, make sure the nurse and radiologist know about any allergies you may have, especially allergies to local anesthetics or contrast material.
- If there’s any chance you may be pregnant, tell your radiologist.
What Should I Bring?
On the day of your procedure you should:
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Avoid bringing jewelry or valuables
What Are the Benefits and Risks?
The benefits of a drainage tube check could be:
- Ensure patency of tube
- Exchange tube if not working properly
Some risks you should be aware of include:
- As with any procedure there is a slight risk of infection
- Rarely, this procedure can cause a temporary increase in pain
- Rarely there are reactions to the medication such as rash or hot flashes
- There is a slight risk of bleeding
- There are risks associated with exposure to X-rays. You should discuss this with your physician.
Keep in mind that this information is general. Your radiologist is the best source of information about how these risks and benefits may apply to you.