Top of the page
You've had a procedure to give you a tunnelled catheter. The catheter is a soft, flexible tube that runs under your skin, usually from a vein in your chest or neck to a large vein near your heart. You may have it for weeks, months, or longer.
You will now be able to get medicine, blood, nutrients, or other fluids with more comfort. You will not be poked with a needle every time.
You can use the catheter right away. You will be shown how to use it and how to care for it.
Your doctor will tell you how to care for the incision at the insertion site. (It's usually on the neck.) It may have stitches, strips of tape, or a gauze dressing. Your doctor will tell you when the stitches will be removed. The strips of tape will fall off in 3 to 5 days. The gauze dressing can be removed after 2 days.
Your doctor will tell you how to care for the incision on your chest where the catheter is. It will likely have a clear or gauze dressing on it. A clear dressing usually needs to be changed about 2 days after the procedure and then once a week. A gauze dressing needs to be changed 2 or 3 times a week. Also, change the dressing right away if it becomes wet, loose, or dirty.
There may be a small ring, or cuff, under the skin on the catheter. This helps hold the catheter in place.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to feel better as quickly as possible.
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.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter D346 in the search box to learn more about "Tunneled Catheter: What to Expect at Home".
Current as of: October 19, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
©2006-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.