Do PICC line hurt, is often asked by patients. Because the process is quite involved many patients and their caregivers might wonder.
PICC lines or “peripherally inserted central catheters” are an intravenous (IV) catheter inserted into a vein in the arm, to reach the area just outside the heart. It consists of a long, thin tube containing a temporary guide that allows the caregiver to “thread” the PICC line through the vein so it can reach one of the central venous system veins responsible for carrying blood to the heart.
The line is used to carry medication or fluid through the bloodstream, as well as for access for drawing blood. Common uses include providing medication, treatments such as chemotherapy, ongoing blood drawing and blood transfusions. Here we review the procedure and discuss the methods used to keep the patient comfortable.
Why is a PICC Line Used?
PICC lines make it easier for both healthcare providers and their patients. In the case where a patient requires ongoing blood monitoring or must receive fluids over a long period of time through an intravenous catheter, PICC line insertion allows the patient to avoid multiple “pokes”. PICC lines also help avoid irritation during the period of their care. From a caregiver’s perspective, they can keep their patients more comfortable while being able to provide treatment or draw blood more easily.
How is PICC Line Insertion Kept Safe?
PICC placement is safe and accurate thanks to the use of ultrasounds and X-rays. Ultrasounds provide guidance to assess the best vein to use, while also showing the caregiver where the line is progressing along the vein during the procedure. Once complete, ECG Tip Confirmation technology or an X-ray then confirms proper placement before the PICC line is secured and ready for use.
Do PICC Lines Hurt?
While pain levels are different for every patient, PICC lines are designed to keep patients comfortable. Although the procedure might seem very involved, the goal is to make treatment easier for both patient and their healthcare providers. In order to avoid discomfort during the procedure, a numbing solution is used at the site of the insertion. This avoids pain when the small incision is made in the arm to access the vein.
As well, patient care and treatment is also a consideration when it comes to whether the PICC line will hurt. For two days following insertion, patients can experience mild soreness at the entry site. Some might experience bleeding at the entry site during this time. Patients must also be certain to follow instructions, such as avoiding strenuous exercise. As well, if a patient is overly active or fails to pay attention to the PICC line while engaging in daily activities, they can remove or shift the PICC line which can cause pain.
What If the PICC Line Hurts?
If pain continues beyond the first two days, patients should inform their caregiver as soon as possible. Other issues that should be reported include:
- Obstruction of the flow of liquids in the IV
- Leakage of fluid from the site of the PICC line insertion
- Drainage at either the entry site or suture sites
- Soft-tissue swelling of the arm, or insertion site
PICC insertion is used for the patient’s comfort and to reduce risk of complications.
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