When Do You Need a PICC Line?

Some chronic illnesses like Lyme disease, cancer, and certain autoimmune diseases require long term care using medications that must be administered intravenously due to the fact that stomach acids can break down the medicine before its benefits are delivered to the blood stream.  For patients who require this kind of treatment over the long term, or those who have fear or difficulty with IV insertion, having a PICC line placed can cut down on the trauma of repetitive needle sticks.  Advanced radiology offers PICC line insertion, port-a-cath, and various other methods of vascular access.

PICC lines have been found to be a safer, less traumatic method of delivering intravenous medications to the superior vena cava so that the heart can pump them out through the bloodstream.  This can be particularly useful for people with blood infections like Lyme disease, or for patients who require chemotherapy infusions for various types of cancer.  With proper care, a PICC line can be inserted and used for any length of time between 7 days to 12 months.

The reason the PICC line is considered safer and less traumatic than the insertion of traditional central lines is that they are inserted into a vein in the shoulder and threaded using vascular imaging through smaller veins until it reaches the superior vena cava.  Traditional central lines are riskier because the incision is made directly into the chest, and any potential for infection or inflammation is closer to the heart and lungs, giving it greater likelihood of spreading.

In most cases, your doctor or physician’s assistant will recommend getting a PICC line inserted, but if you are undergoing medical treatment for chemotherapy lasting more than one hour for administration, or requiring multiple sticks, you may choose to ask your doctor if a PICC line is right for you.  To schedule a consultation, contact our office at 855-201-1519.