Removal of the catheter is easy and painless. Usually a trained nurse pulls it out gently, and it just takes a few minutes. This process can even be done at the patient’s home. Sometimes, there is a possibility of resistance due to a venous spasm (sudden contraction of a vessel wall).
When this happens, it takes more time to remove it. The line should never be pulled out forcefully, as there is a chance of it breaking. After it is removed, the area is bandaged with a sterile gauge. The wound is to be kept dry for a few days so that it can heal. When the patient is in the hospital,the nurses take care of the PICC line. They check for leakage, inspect the dressing, and flush the catheter. But when the patient is not in hospital, either a nurse has to do the checking or the patient’s relatives and family members can be taught how to take care of it. They can take care of the line in the following manner:
It has to be flushed at least two times a day, after every 12 hours, when it is being used. This is done by flushing 0.9% saline with a syringe to prevent the line from clotting.
When the line is not in use, it can be flushed once a week to prevent it from getting blocked.
The dressing keeps the site clean and holds the line in place, so it should be changed every week. If the dressing becomes loose, then it needs to be changed immediately. A clean dressing prevents infection.
The bungs or caps also need to be changed every week along with the dressing and the clamp should be closed when the line is not in use.
Scissors are not supposed to be used, as there is a risk of the line getting cut.
The line should be kept dry while taking a bath. The dressing can be covered in waterproof covers or plastic bags to prevent from getting wet.
Avoid checking blood pressure in the arm having the line. The precautions to be taken are:
- The dressing or the line should not be pulled.
- Avoid touching the PICC area.
- The patient should not swing the arm with the line vigorously, and extra care should be taken while wearing or removing clothes.
- Hand should be properly washed before taking care of the area.
- The PICC area should be properly covered at all times, even while sleeping.
- The dressing should always be kept dry and clean, and all the edges of the dressing should be completely sealed.
- If the line does not get flushed easily, do not force it and immediately contact your doctor.
- Keep scissors and other sharp objects away from the PICC line so that it does not get cut.
- Use sterile equipment, and clean the cap before and after every use. The line can be kept in the arm for weeks or months. The patient can get it removed when it is no longer required. You should also discontinue it after consulting your doctor, when an infection occurs or the line gets blocked or damaged.