Vascular Access

Guided by ultrasound, an interventional radiologist may insert a PICC line. A PICC line is a useful venous line for gaining access to the circulatory system. Like other central lines that are placed into the body during procedures, a PICC line tip goes to a blood vessel near the heart. A PICC line is distinguishable in that it starts in one of the body’s extremities, usually in the upper arm.  As this is the case, the ultrasound allows the interventional radiologist the ability to visualize the large, deep blood vessels in the arm for the PICC catheter’s placement.

This skill is also used in the placement of a port-a-catheter and tunneled central lines. A port-a-catheter allows easy access to the circulatory system for patients with ongoing treatments such as cancer treatments when many blood samples and IV medications are used. A tunneled central line is a central line into the circulatory system like a PICC line. Its distinguishing factor is that it is placed through an incision, tunneled underneath the skin(thus the name) and then fed into a vein in the neck leading to the superior vena cava. Tunneling under the skin allows the line to be used for a longer length of time.