A central venous catheter (CVC) is a thin, flexible tube used to give medicines, fluids, nutrients, or blood products. It's also called a central line. The catheter makes giving these things more comfortable because they are put directly into the catheter. That means your child is not stuck with a needle every time. Health care providers also use a CVC to do blood tests.
The CVC is inserted in your child's chest, neck, groin, or arm. It's put through the skin and into a large vein near the heart. In most cases, the other end of the catheter sticks out of the skin. The end of the CVC has caps on it. The health care provider gives medicine or removes blood through the caps.
A baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) often has a CVC placed through the belly button. The NICU is the part of the hospital where premature or sick newborns are cared for.
Some of the common CVCs that are used outside the hospital or for longer periods of time include:
The doctor or another health care provider may use ultrasound to locate the blood vessel to help with inserting and placing the catheter.
In the hospital, a nursing team will take care of your child and the CVC.
Your child's nursing team will:
The team will:
If your child goes home with a CVC, the nursing team will give you detailed instructions on how to care for it and what to do if any problems occur. In general:
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: March 20, 2017
John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
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