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A PICC is a thin and soft catheter that is inserted into a vein in the arm or leg for purposes of delivering medication or nutrition and to allow for frequent blood drawing.

About this Treatment

About this Treatment

How do we perform PICC placements?

First the interventional radiologist will perform an ultrasound of the extremity chosen for the PICC to identify the vein to be accessed. Then the doctor will insert a needle into the vein followed by a guide wire that will be imaged under x-rays and used to make measurements, which will allow the catheter to be cut to the desired length. Once cut to length, the catheter will be advanced to the level of entry into the right heart. A typical PICC placement takes approximately 30-60 minutes.

Will my child be awake during the procedure?

Newborns and young infants can be restrained during the procedure and distracted with oral sucrose. Young children often require intravenous sedation so that they are not awake and do not move. Older children who can follow demands can be given local numbing medication.

Will my child be in any pain?

For children that are awake, a small pinprick will be felt when injecting the local numbing medication. After the procedure there may be discomfort and/or tenderness around the catheter insertion site for a few days, which can be easily controlled by over-the-counter pain medications.

What risks are associated with this procedure?

PICC placement is considered a low-risk procedure.. However, potential complications include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Formation of a blood clot in the vein (thrombosis)
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Puncture of adjacent arteries, veins, or nerves
  • Allergic reaction to contrast dye
Pre and Post Operative Care

Pre and Post Operative Care

How do my child and I prepare for the procedure?

We encourage good communication between you and your child, including the necessity and overview of the procedure as well as ensuring them that you are close by the whole time. Holding them or their hands until they leave for the procedure is a great way to provide support.

You will be given specific instructions along the way but you may need to arrive a few hours before the scheduled procedure to have some blood tests done. When you arrive at the hospital, a doctor will review the procedure and associated risks, after which you will sign a consent form. When we are ready to get started with the procedure, a nurse will place an intravenous line to deliver sedating medications and you will be allowed to accompany your child in the operating room until they are asleep, after which you will be escorted to a waiting room.

What happens after the procedure?

Nurses will monitor your child in the recovery area for 4-6 hours for successful recovery from anesthesia and any immediate complications. If they are not already an inpatient, the doctor may decide to have your child admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay. As mentioned, there may be some discomfort around the needle insertion sites for some days following the procedure. Bandages and dressing must be kept clean and dry.

How long can a PICC line stay in?

PICCs are usually indicated to serve for weeks but if cared for properly, they can remain in place safely for months.

When will my child be able to shower or bathe?

You child can sponge bath for the first 48 hours while the initial bandage and dressing are in place. After 48 hours, a nurse will perform the first dressing change, after which normal showering and bathing are allowed so long as a water-resistant bandage covers the PICC insertion site, which you will be taught how to create. The insertion site of the PICC into the body must be kept clean and dry at all times.

Are there any activity restrictions?

Though your child may resume normal school-going or daycare attendance, rough-playing or contact sports or contact sports must be avoided, which can result in damage or pulling of the catheter.


• Redness, pain, swelling, or bruising at the needle insertion site.

• Fever higher than 101o Fahrenheit or 38o Celsius.

The department of Interventional Radiology can be reached at: 202-476-3791, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

At all other times please call 202-259-8643, which is the on-call pager. Follow the instructions and wait for a call back.



Interventional Radiology

Children’s National interventional radiologists perform a full range of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to both diagnose and treat disease in infants, children, and adolescents.

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