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Central Line

Alternate Names

  • central venous catheter
  • CVP line

Definition

A central line is a special intravenous line (IV). This type of IV is inserted into the subclavian vein just under the collarbone in the upper chest, or through one of the larger veins in the arm, 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
  • 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
  • giving fluids, blood products, chemotherapy, and other medicines, as well as for hyperalimentation (nutrition by vein)
  • 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 anesthetic is injected to make the area numb. A healthcare professional advances the line until it reaches the large vein of the chest. The catheter is then sutured in place, and a sterile dressing is applied.

Sources

Illustrated Manual of Nursing Practice, 2nd Ed., 1994

Textbook of Critical Care Nursing: Diagnosis and Management, Thelan, 1990

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