Long-term central venous access is essential for managing patients with cancer, certain congenital malformations, gastrointestinal malfunction, as well as for those who need long-term access to medications or blood products. Peripherally inserted central catheters address all of these issues. They are considered a safe and effective alternative to other conventional and central venous access devices, are less invasive providing long term access with decreased risks.
The peripherally inserted central catheter has been an established technology in home intravenous therapies and its use has been increasing in hospital and home-health settings. PICCs adequately and safely meet the needs of patients who require short to long term therapy in many clinical settings.
Disease and patient specific selection of any venous access device type is important in minimizing complications and obtaining optimal outcomes. Central venous catheters, other than PICCs, have been established as a reliable source of vascular access since the 1970s. Peripherally inserted central catheters became a popular central catheter in the early 1990s for adults and children. They can actually be considered as a “hybrid” between conventional peripheral venous access devices and central venous catheters as it performs the function of a central venous catheter with the safety of a conventional peripheral venous catheter.
The various advantages of peripherally inserted central catheters are as follows:
Long term venous access:
A peripherally inserted central catheter is an ideal venous access device for patients with chronic diseases requiring long term intravenous therapy such as, for example, antibiotics or nutrition. Depending on the facility or institution, a conventional peripheral venous catheter is typically changed to another site every three to five days. Central venous catheters placed in the neck or groin last longer at every one to two weeks but pose more risk for infection and complications. But peripherally inserted central catheters may remain for longer periods of time, up to one year, without having to change sites, with minimal complications and with proper care and maintenance.
Decreased Skin Puncture for Blood Sampling:
PICCs can be used to draw blood samples required for the vast array of blood tests to diagnose and treat virtually all diseases or illnesses. Repeated skin pricks for blood sampling, therefore, can be avoided. This not only poses the risk of infection, it is painful. Thus a PICC line can decrease the potential for infection and reduce the sufferings of the patients.
Early Patient Discharge:
A PICC line can be cared for at home by health care agencies, patient families, infusion centers or other outpatient facilities. Therefore, a patient requiring, for example, a six week regimen of IV antibiotics no longer has to remain in the hospital to receive all required treatments. Additionally, the access line can remain in place for many weeks, months, up to a year if needed. The only other long term IV access device which meets this standard of long life and early discharge are implanted ports which are invasive and considered a surgical procedure.
PICC lines, with their multi lumened IV access, can be used to administer antibiotics, blood and blood products, anti-cancer drugs, intravenous fluids and nutrients. It is a versatile IV access line.
A PICC is a reliable alternative to short term central venous catheters, with a lower risk of complications and wider range for use.
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