A central catheter is a long, thin tube that is inserted into a large vein. Central catheters are inserted when patients need:

• Long-term medication or fluids
• Chemotherapy
• Dialysis
• Nutrition, but cannot get it through the digestive system
• Repeated blood draws
• Blood transfusions
• IV medications when arm veins are difficult to access

There are different types of central catheters, including:

PERIPHERALLY INSERTED CENTRAL CATHETER (P.I.C.C. LINE) - the catheter is threaded through a vein in the arm until it reaches the larger vein close to the heart.

NON-TUNNELED CENTRAL CATHETER - it is inserted in a large vein in the neck or leg; the tube end is outside of the skin.

TUNNELED CENTRAL CATHETER - it is inserted in the neck vein and tunneled under the skin. The end of the catheter is sticking out from under the skin, usually below the collarbone.

PORT CATHETER - it is inserted in a shoulder or neck vein. The port is under the skin, and the catheter is tunneled into the central vein. The port is accessed by putting a needle through the skin directly into the port.

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