Home About AllHealth Website Sitemap Contact Us
All Health 
You are here: Home > Test Finder > General > central line


central line

Alternative Names 
central venous catheter, CVP line

A central line is a special intravenous, or IV, line that is inserted through the chest and threaded into one of the large veins that lie close to the heart. A central line has multiple ports that can be used to draw blood, give fluids, and monitor central venous blood pressure.

Who is a candidate for the procedure? 
A central line is used for:
  • gaining emergency IV access when the usual IV access into an arm vein is not possible
  • monitoring central venous pressure during major surgery, or after severe blood loss from trauma or illness
  • administering fluids, blood products, chemotherapy medications, intravenous fluids, hyperalimentation, and medications
  • drawing blood samples
  • administering long-term IV therapy
How is the procedure performed? 
A central line is inserted under sterile conditions. The person is usually placed in the Trendelenburg position, which means the head is below the level of the heart. The skin is cleansed and a local anaesthetic is injected to make the area numb. The line is advanced until it reaches the appropriate place in the large vein of the chest. The catheter is then sutured in place, and a sterile dressing is applied.

What happens right after the procedure? 
A chest x-ray will be done immediately after the central line is inserted. The line should not be used until the x-ray confirms that it is in the correct position. A central line can usually stay in place for up to 4 weeks.

What happens later at home? 
If the person is going home with the central line, the family will need to learn how to care for the catheter. A visiting nurse will be involved in the care. Dressings will need to be changed every 3 days. The insertion area should be inspected closely for signs of infection, including redness, drainage, and swelling.

What are the potential complications after the procedure? 
While inserting the line, it is possible to puncture the lung. The catheter may irritate the heart and cause irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias. Other complications may include:
  • infection
  • bleeding
  • air embolism
  • blood clot in the tubing
Any of these complications may lead to the removal of the central line.

Reviewer: eknohow Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr John Hearne
Last Updated: 22/09/2004
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


Back Email a Friend View Printable Version Bookmark This Page


eknowhow | The World's Best Websites
    Privacy Policy and Disclaimer