You have a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). This is a tube that goes into a vein in your arm. It will help carry nutrients and medicine into your body. It will also be used to take blood when you need to have blood tests.
These catheters are used when people need intravenous (IV) medical treatment or routine blood drawing over a long period of time.
You will need to rinse out your catheter after every use. This is called "flushing." Sometimes you will also need to flush it between uses.
After some practice, flushing your catheter will get easier. A friend, family member, caregiver, or your doctor may be able to help you.
To flush your catheter, you will need:
Before starting, check the labels on the saline syringes, heparin syringes, or medicine syringes. Make sure it is the right strength and dose. Check the expiration date. If the syringe is not prefilled, draw up the correct amount.
You will flush your catheter in a sterile (very clean) way. This will help protect you from infection. Follow these guidelines:
Ask your doctor if you also need to flush your catheter with heparin. Heparin is a medicine that helps prevent blood clots.
Follow these steps to flush your catheter with heparin:
Keep all of the clamps on your catheter closed at all times. It is a good idea to change the caps at the end of your catheter (called the “claves”) when you change your dressing and after blood is drawn.
It is okay to take showers and baths 7 - 10 days after your catheter was put in place. When you do, make sure the dressings are secure and your catheter site is staying dry. Do not let the catheter site go under water if you are soaking in the bathtub.
Call your doctor or nurse if you:
Also call your doctor if your catheter:
PICC - flushing
Updated by: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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