What is a PICC (Peripherally inserted central catheter)?
A PICC is a longer version of a cannula. It is inserted into a small vein in the arm, leg or scalp and then gently moved forward until the tip of the PICC is in a big vein close to the heart. A PICC is usually able to remain in these big veins for longer periods of time to receive intravenous medication at home.
What does a PICC look like?
PICC connected to an infusor
The PICC is secured using a clear dressing and a securement device. The dressing acts as a barrier to prevent infection and allows the area to remain clean and dry. The securement device prevents the PICC from being accidently dislodged or removed. Tubifast may be applied over the PICC for support and comfort.
The PICC is checked by the HITH (hospital in the home) nurse at every home visit and the PICC will be removed on completion of treatment.
General care of the PICC line
- A PICC is looked after using a very strict technique to prevent infection. This involves careful hand washing and wearing gloves when connecting and disconnecting the infusion sets from the PICC and also during dressing changes.
- Make sure that the ends of the PICC, infusion sets and syringe tips do not touch a non-sterile surface.
- Ensure that the dressing covering the PICC is kept clean and dry at all times.
- When bathing your child ensure the PICC is kept out of the water to prevent the risk of infection. If showering cover the PICC with plastic gladwrap to prevent the line from getting wet. Tape each end of the gladwrap to ensure the dressing remains dry.
- Keep the PICC secure and regularly check the dressing to make sure it is not coming off. Never try to remove the dressing.
- Dressings are changed every 7 days. This involves carefully removing the old dressing and cleaning the skin around the PICC with antiseptic solution and applying a new clean dressing.
- Check the PICC regularly to ensure that the line is not kinked and the line outside the body has not changed length.
- Take care when dressing your child to ensure that the PICC line does not accidently get removed.
- Ensure that your child does not participate in contact sports or vigorous play whilst undergoing treatment to avoid potential damage to the PICC.
- Do not allow anyone to touch the PICC.
When to seek help
If your child has any of the following problems, follow the instructions below and contact either the HITH nurse or your child’s relevant after hours medical team immediately.
Chest pain or difficulty breathing
The PICC accidently comes out
The Infusor becomes disconnected from the PICC
The PICC breaks
Your child develops fevers, swelling, redness or pain at the PICC entry site or up the arm
Dressing loose, wet or dirty
The PICC appears longer or shorter
Leakage or drainage at the PICC site
Contact details for HITH Service:
Westmead contact telephone numbers:
Contact Times: 7.30am to 9.30pm 7 days a week
Office: (02) 98453857
Morning nurse mobile: 0417226650
Afternoon nurse mobile: 0419226590
Randwick contact telephone numbers:
Contact times: 7.30am to 9.30pm 7 days a week
Office: (02) 93820888
Morning Nurse Mobile: 0418760411
Afternoon Nurse Mobile: 0409954567
After Hours: Please phone the Sydney Children’s Hospital Westmead on 98450000 or the Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick on 93821111 and ask to speak to the Registrar on call for your child’s consultant for further instructions.