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A tunnelled catheter is a soft, flexible tube that runs under your skin from a vein in your chest or neck to a large vein near your heart. One end of the tube stays outside the body. This catheter is a type of central venous line. You may have it for weeks, months, or longer.
The catheter gives you medicine, blood products, nutrients, or fluids over a long period of time. It makes getting these things more comfortable for you because they are put into the tube. You are not stuck with a needle every time. The catheter may be used to draw blood for tests only if another vein, such as in the hand or arm, can't be used. The end of the catheter sometimes has two or three openings. This is so that you can get more than one type of fluid or medicine at a time.
Your doctor will give you medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. He or she will make two small cuts (incisions) in your body. Your doctor will thread the catheter up a vein in your chest or neck.
After the procedure, you will probably have small bandages where the doctor put in the tube and where it comes out of your body. The area may feel sore for a few days. You may have stitches. Sometimes glue is used instead of stitches.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
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Current as of: September 23, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
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