Simply put, PICC is short for a peripheral intravenous central catheter. The catheter is placed by either an interventional radiologist or a nurse specially trained in placing PICC lines. In recent years, the delegation for placing a PICC line has gone to nurses trained in their placement in routine, non-complicated cases, with the placement being performed at the bedside.
The reasons for needing a PICC are many and varied. The main reasons for needing a PICC line, according to Medcaretip (Singh, 2019). are when a patient needs frequent blood sampling, long-term antibiotics usually greater than four weeks, prolonged courses of chemotherapy, total parenteral nutritional therapy, and other substances that a normal intravenous route could not deliver due to their caustic nature. PICC lines can stay longer than regular central lines, usually up to one year and have a lower incidence of complications.
The reasons for not placing a PICC line are just as important as their placement. The absolute contraindications for a PICC line include an elevated INR, thrombocytopenia, septicemia, and an inadequate vessel for cannulation. A relative contraindication would be an A-V fistula, pacemaker, or a mastectomy site, in which case the opposite side would be used (Day, 2019).
The advantages to a patient having a PICC line are numerous, but the significant advantages to the patient are:
- Preservation of the peripheral veins and reduced discomfort from frequent venipunctures
- The reduced risk of phlebitis and infiltration
- The cost-effectiveness and the fact that the PICC can be used as a central venous pressure monitoring device for patients in the intensive care unit
The other reasons for having a PICC line versus a standard CVC per Brien et al. include:
- Lower costs in terms of placement
- Lower rate of complications and cost of complications
- and a reduced length of stay in the hospital (Brien, 2015)