What is a PICC?
It is a long plastic tube (catheter) which is put into one of the large veins in your arm over the elbow joint. The tube then passes through the large veins of the arm and shoulder and the tip of the tube is positioned in the big vein above the heart, this vein is called the superior vena cava. The PICC line is put in by a doctor.
The PICC can be used to give you treatments such as chemotherapy and antibiotics. It can also be used to take samples of your blood for testing. You can go home with the PICC and it can be left in for weeks or months. This makes it possible for you to have your treatment without having to have needles frequently inserted into your veins. This may be particularly helpful if your veins are hard to find or have been hardened by previous treatments.
Inserting a PICC is a minor procedure. A local anaesthetic is used so you should not feel pain. The doctor putting in the PICC will wear a sterile gown and be assisted by a nurse. They will select a suitable vein and put a needle into that vein. The PICC will then be threaded through the needle into the vein and then up into the correct position. The needle then can be removed leaving the PICC in the correct position. This positioning is done under image guidance; ultrasound and X-ray.