Central Venous Access Catheters

A Central Venous Access Catheter (CVAC) is a tube that is inserted from a small vein in the arm or neck and threaded into the larger veins in the chest so that there is a simple, pain-free way for doctors or nurses to draw blood or give medication or nutrients. The placement of a CVAC spares the irritation and discomfort of repeated needle sticks. These catheters are also very helpful to those patients with very small veins, in whom it is difficult to start an IV, or patients that are extremely averse to needle sticks.

More than 3.4 million CVACs are placed each year, and doctors are increasingly depending on these devices. Surgery was once required to insert these tubes, but today these procedures can be done without surgery by an interventional radiologist. The tip of the catheter is positioned in the large veins in the chest using x-ray to view the catheter while it is being placed.

Following is a description of the some of the CVAC placement procedures RCT physicians perform.
  • Peripherally Inserted Central Catheters (also called PICC lines or long lines)

  • These are non-tunneled catheters, which are easily and quickly inserted by the radiologist. These catheters are inserted through a vein in the arm to the central veins in the chest. These are designed for short or intermediate-term use. 
  • Tunneled catheters (Hickman, Broviac and Dialysis catheters)

  • These catheters are tunneled (under the skin) from the vein insertion to a site on the chest. The tunnel makes these catheters more resistant to infection than the non-tunneled PICC lines. These are designed for at home or long term use, and are necessary when high flow rates are required (as in dialysis or apheresis). These catheters avoid the need for needle sticks.
  • Implantable Ports

  • These devices are completely implanted beneath the skin, and are accessed by using a special needle.  Ports are designed for long-term use, and require very little maintenance when not being used. These devices also have the lowest rate of infection, and require no restriction of activity (such as swimming) while they are in place.

Following is a list of conditions for which CVAC is commonly used.

  • Chemotherapy treatments 
  • Infusions of antibiotics or other medications 
  • Intravenous Nutrition 
  • Hemodialysis 

Diagnostic Angiography

Peripheral Angioplasty

Venous Intervention &
Dialysis Access Management

Central Venous Access Catheters


Interventional Neuroradiology


Imaging Guided Biopsy/Abscess Drainage

Biliary Intervention for
Disorders of the Liver

GU Intervention

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