A Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) is a thin, long, soft plastic tube that functions as an intravenous (IV) line. A PICC allows your nurses and doctors to administer medications and fluids on a frequent basis. A PICC can remain in place for as long as you need IV therapy.
Typically the radiologist will insert the PICC into a large vein in your arm and guide the catheter up into the main vein near your heart where there is rapid blood flow. The PICC is secured in place and covered with a sterile dressing. An x-ray is taken to assure that the catheter is in the right location. Inserting the PICC usually takes approximately 20-40 minutes to complete. Most patients feel little or no discomfort during this procedure. A local anesthetic may be used.
A port is a device that is implanted under the skin and provides access to your veins. The port can stay in place permanently, if necessary. When not in use, the only care a port requires is flushing once a month with a special saline solution to keep blood clots from forming in the line.
Ports are implanted by an interventional radiologist. Two incisions are made, a small one near the collarbone and a larger incision usually a few inches below the first incision where a reservoir pocket is formed. Both of these incisions are sewn with dissolvable sutures and covered with a special sterile adhesive that will fall off or can be removed as the skin heals.
When the port is accessed, a special needle is placed through the skin into the reservoir. A catheter under the skin connects the reservoir to a large vein, usually in the chest. This allows you to receive medication, blood, or nutrition or to have lab samples taken.