Thursday, October 16, 2008

Central Venous Catheter

What is a central venous catheter?

A central venous catheter (CVC) is a narrow, hollow, silicone tube that is inserted through the skin into a vein in the neck. The tip of the catheter sits above the right upper chamber of the heart in the large vein. the outer end of the catheter is "tunneled" several centimeters under the skin and exits the skin on your chest.

The are where the CVC comes out of the skin is known as the "exit site". The part of the CVC that is outside the body may have 2 or 3 tubes or lumens that join together into one tube.

What is the purpose of the central venous catheter?

The CVC provides access to your bloodstream and can remain in place for long term use. The CVC can be used to administer chemotherapy, medications and other fluids, including blood. If necessary, the CVC can also be used to obtain blood samples.

I had a CVC inserted after my first chemo treatment because it took 5 attempts to get an IV in. My veins kept collapsing. I was apprehensive at first but the nurses encouraged me that it would be easier in the end and the maintenance is quite manageable. I have to agree on both counts.

The only issue I am having is that I am getting a bit of a rash from the dressing bandages (glue) but I think it is my own fault for not letting the area dry properly after using the chlorhexidine swabs (cleaning). The area needs to dry for at least 5 minutes before new dressing is applied. I was not doing that and got a bit of a rash or burn to the area. I've since been using different dressing and things are improving. I plan to back to the original dressing once things heal up.

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