Here we are getting the line inserted:
My mom and John went to the hospital with me for support. While they were preparing me for the procedure mom and John were over in the corner discussing the remodeling he is doing on one of the bathrooms in my parents home. I finally had to ask them to come and pay attention to me and support me!! Those stinkers!!
A PICC is the acronym for a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. A PICC is a thin, long, soft plastic tube that functions as an intravenous (IV) line. A PICC is often placed in radiology by a radiologist and a PA.
Before insertion, the radiology tech measures the distance from your arm to your chest to determine the length of the catheter needed. The tech then uses an ultrasound device to assist with locating the large blood vessels (veins) in the upper arm and marks their location. Then, your arm is prepped with an anti-bacterial soap and betadine and then covered with a sterile cloth to prevent infection. All parties wears sterile attire for this procedure.
Once you are prepped, the tech places a tourniquet on your arm right and locates the large blood vessels. The site is then numbed (or numbed as well as possible) with Lidocaine. Then, the PA uses a needle to enter the vein, inserts the introducer wire, and guides the PICC line into the superior vena cava that feeds into your heart. Following the placement, an x-ray is taken to ensure that the PICC line is accurately positioned near your heart. The whole process takes around an hour.
Diagram of a PICC line placement. Mine is placed on the inside of my upper left arm:
A double lumen PICC before insertion.
My PICC line (fluids being run) - My color has really improved over the past few weeks.
Saline Flush (no needle kind) & Heparin Flush. Both lumens (ports) must be flushed daily and before and after any infusions with saline. Both most also be flushed daily with Heparin (an anticoagulent).
Nothing is to penetrate the plastic dressing. No water, no nothing. Here I am with my arm wrapped in saran wrap and taped up with a ziploc bag - I couldn't bend my arm so John had to help me wash my hair!!
The dressing is changed weekly with both the patient and the nurse wearing masks to avoid contamination. I don't look at the line when its uncovered to prevent breathing on it. My arm is always sore for a day or two after the dressing is changed. The have to move the line around to clean it up - it does NOT feel good.
Close up of my PICC: this is after 2 weeks of having the PICC inserted.
So that's that!! It was a really scary procedure for me - but I am so thankful to have it now. It has taken me awhile to sleep well with all these lines - but I finally am sleeping great at night.