How to Care for Your Central Line at Home


Cancer or blood disorder patients may have central lines, which make it easier to receive certain medications (such as chemotherapy) and have blood tests. The major types of central lines include Port-A-Cath, Hickman, and peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC). Patients receiving stem cell transplants sometimes have central lines.

If you have a central line, you may need to care for it at home. Or you may need guidance in caring for a loved one with a central line. Knowing the correct procedures is essential to preventing infection.

Many patients say the central line spares them the many needle sticks they would otherwise need when getting treatments or medications. “Once he had a central line, it became a part of his body,” says Hilda Spates, whose husband, Bill, had a Hickman catheter to aid in his treatments for leukemia.

Alyssa Ywuc, also a leukemia patient, was relieved to discover how easy it was to receive her chemotherapy through a “port,” an IV catheter inserted in her upper chest, under the skin. “You can’t tell it’s there,” she says. “I can even take a shower.”

Your nurse or doctor will teach you central line care, but these video refreshers can help you remember all the steps for some of the most common situations.

Remember, if you have any questions about central line care, you should never hesitate to call your doctor or nurse.

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