Schedule an initial consultation at one of these locations:

Utah Vascular Clinic


650 East 4500 South, Suite 100
Salt Lake City, UT 84107

Ogden Regional Medical Center


5475 South 500 East
Washington Terrace, UT 84405



Central Venous Access (Ports, PICCs and Central Lines)

What is a central venous catheter?

A central venous catheter (CVC) is a tube that provides access to the large, high-flow veins inside the chest. The tip of a central venous catheter is usually positioned in the superior vena cava, a large vein above the heart. Unlike IV catheters inserted into the veins of the arms, CVCs can remain in place for many weeks or months, depending upon the purpose and design of the catheter.

What are the different types of CVCs?

The most basic central venous catheter, also known as a "central line", is inserted directly into the jugular vein in the neck or the subclavian vein below the collarbone. Central lines are a type of temporary (less than 3 weeks duration) catheter, usually used to treat hospitalized patients.

A tunneled central venous catheter is inserted into the jugular vein in the neck, but exits out the skin below the collarbone. Tunneled catheters are indicated for medium to long-term use (greater than 3 weeks duration). Most tunneled catheters are manufactured with a Dacron cuff that is bonded to shaft of the catheter. During insertion, the cuff is positioned under the skin between the catheter exit site and the jugular vein. After the catheter is placed, tissue ingrowth into the cuff creates a mechanical barrier between the skin and the vein that reduces the chance of a bloodstream infection. Tunneled central lines come in a wide variety of designs and are often used for hemodialysis, chemotherapy and fluid administration.

A port, or Portacath, is a fully implanted central line. Instead of exiting the skin, the venous tubing connects to a hollow reservoir that is implanted just below the collarbone. To gain access to the port, a special non-coring needle (Huber) is inserted through a silicone septum on the front surface of the reservoir. Ports are indicated for long-term use (greater than 3 months duration), and are most often used for cancer patients.

A PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central venous Catheter) is inserted into a vein in the arm, but the catheter tip is positioned in a central vein in the chest. Because PICCs are readily available and easy to place, PICCs are very popular. PICCs are indicated for medium-term use (3-6 weeks). Because PICCs are known to cause long-term damage to arm veins, they should not be used in patients who are on, or may need, dialysis.

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Do you know the signs & symptoms?

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs, but sometimes in your arm.

  • Swelling, usually in one leg
    (or arm)
  • Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or
    Charley horse
  • Reddish or bluish skin discoloration
  • Leg (or arm) warm to touch

Pulmonary Embolism

Clots can break off from a DVT and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal.

  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Chest pain-sharp, stabbing; may get worse with deep breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unexplained cough, sometimes with bloody mucus