skip to the main content area of this page
PICC Definition
What is a PICC?

The PICC Line

A PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) is a thin, flexible catheter which is inserted into one of the larger veins of the arm, (usually within approximately two inches below or above the bend of the elbow) from where it is threaded up the arm, across the chest and it drops down into the upper portion of the heart, called the Superior Vena Cava. The Superior Vena Cava is where all blood returns just before it re-circulates through the heart.


The PICC line has all of the advantages of a Central Catheter, without many of the risks. Some Central Catheters are inserted directly through the chest wall and tunneled up to the vessel, until it rests in the Superior Vena Cava. The PICC line, when inserted into the arm, passes up through the veins of the arm and shoulder and then comes to rest in the upper chest and Superior Vena Cava without the need to pierce through the chest wall.

Why a PICC?

Many of the most effective IV drugs, because of their PH and Osmolarity, can be very irritating to the walls of the smaller veins in your arms and hands. Because of that, regular IVs must be changed frequently, usually every 2-3 days. Some of the disadvantages of the regular IVs are the vein can become swollen and painful. Small veins can also become "leaky", allowing irritating medications to leak out onto the surrounding tissue. This can be dangerous as well as painful. Potential problems are avoided with a PICC. In addition, PICC lines can be used for drawing blood specimens, which avoids the pain associated with blood draws.

Why Choose IVNC?

The IV Nurse Consultants team has highly skilled PICC nurses that add a whole new dimension of accuracy and quality control to the insertion of the PICC lines. This combined with the use of our Ultrasound equipment used at bedside, produced an accuracy of greater that 98% in the first attempt PICC placements with less than one percent having to go to interventional radiology.

Advantages with IVNC!

Is it Painful?

IVNC places PICC lines at the bed side. Local anesthetic is applied under the skin which usually ensures the insertion is painless. The injections might sting for a few seconds. Most patients report that after the local anesthetic is injected, they only feel a little bit of "pressure" during the insertion. The procedure takes about 30 to 40 minutes. Once the PICC line is in place it will be taped firmly to the skin with a special transparent dressing to prevent displacement. A chest x-ray will then be taken to verify the position of the line before it is to be used.

Caring for the PICC

Once the line is in place, it will be cared for by nursing personnel, whether in a hospital, clinic, or long term care facility. They will regularly clean the external part of the line, change the dressings, and flush the line thoroughly with sterile solution. With proper care your PICC line can last for the duration of your treatment, even if you need weeks or months of IV therapy.


It is always important to advise your physician and facility staff as well as the IVNC specialists of any known allergies. It could affect your treatment options.