Central Venous Access
Patient Guideline Summary
- Central venous access is a method of delivering fluids and medications directly to a patient while avoiding repeated injections and when arm veins are unavailable or unsuitable, as in long-term use.
- This patient summary focuses on the proper insertion and use of central venous access.
- The usual sites for placement of a central venous line are the neck, behind the collar bone, and in the groin. The first two are generally preferred.
- Among the several devices available, the appropriate one for each occasion must be carefully determined.
- Standard-approved protocols are available for guidance when inserting and using the device.
- There are several risks associated with central venous access:
- Damage to nearby structures like arteries and the lungs
- Blood clots
- It is important to secure the device so it remains in place and open.
- Antibiotics can be coated on the access device or given through it to prevent infection.
- Special dressings to cover the device and strict sterility when handling it are required.
- Because infection risk increases over time, prompt removal when the device is no longer needed is necessary.
Damage to nearby structures
- When inserting the device, imaging with ultrasound or x-ray is recommended.
- When using the device, care must be taken not to dislodge it.
- When removing the access, the entire device must be retrieved.
- Neck and chest sites minimize the risk of blood clots.