Vascular Access

In a vascular access procedure, a thin plastic tube, or catheter, is inserted into a blood vessel to allow blood to be drawn or medication to be delivered to a patient over an extended period of time. Vascular access is often used for IV antibiotics, chemotherapy, blood transfusions or IV feeding. It is also frequently used to perform dialysis for patients whose kidneys don’t work properly. Having an access catheter in place eliminates the need for repeated needle sticks and provides a painless way to draw blood or deliver medication.

Examples of vascular access catheters include PICC lines, tunneled catheter, port catheter, non-tunneled central catheter and pheresis catheters. The device is normally inserted into a large vein in the neck, chest or groin. X-ray and ultrasound equipment may be used to guide the placement of the catheter.

You may be told not to eat or drink anything for several hours before the procedure, and you may be told to skip certain medications (like blood thinners). If you are having this done as an outpatient, you should plan to have someone drive you home afterward. You may have blood tests done prior to the procedure, and you may be asked to remove jewelry, eye glasses and any metal objects that might interfere with the x-ray images.

After the procedure, you will be given instructions on how to care for your incision and the catheter device.