Peripheral venous catheter
In medicine, a peripheral venous catheter (PVC or peripheral venous line or peripheral venous access catheter) is a catheter (small, flexible tube) placed into a peripheral vein in order to administer medication or fluids. Upon insertion, the line can be used to draw blood.
The catheter is introduced into the vein by a needle (similar to blood drawing), which is subsequently removed while the small tube of the cannula remains in place. The catheter is then fixed by taping it to the patient's skin (unless there is allergy to adhesives). Newer catheters have been equipped with additional safety features to avoid needlestick injuries. Modern catheters consist of synthetic polymers such as teflon (hence the often used term 'Venflon' or 'Cathlon' for these venous catheters). In 1950 they consisted of plastic.
A peripheral venous catheter is the most commonly used vascular access in medicine. It is given to most emergency room and surgical patients, and before some radiological imaging techniques using radiocontrast, for example. In the United States, more than 25 million patients get a peripheral venous line each year.
A peripheral venous catheter is usually placed in a vein on the hand or arm. It should be distinguished from a central venous catheter which is inserted in a central vein (usually in the internal jugular vein of the neck or the subclavian vein of the chest), or an arterial catheter which can be placed in a peripheral as well as a central artery. In children, a local anaesthetic gel (such as lidocaine) is applied to the insertion site to facilitate placement.
Because of the risk of insertion-site infection the CDC advises in their guideline that the catheter needs to be replaced every 96 hours. Although these catheters can best not be left in place longer than necessary, the need to replace these catheters routinely is debated. Expert management has been shown to reduce the complications of peripheral lines.
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- National Cancer Institute: peripheral venous catheter
- Recommended practices for the insertion and management of peripheral intravenous cathers (PIVC)