This procedure involves the use of a catheter for a simple and pain-free way of drawing blood and giving medications or nutrients.
The insertion of a venous access device involves the placement of a plastic intravenous tube (catheter) though your skin and into a vein. Some numbing medicine will be injected in the skin over the area of concern. Intravenous medications may also be given to you to make you more comfortable and relaxed. This is known as conscious sedation.
Once the catheter has been inserted into the skin, it will be tunnelled under the skin until it reaches the designated vein. It may also be inserted directly into the vein and then advanced through the blood vessels to the proper location. If a port is placed, a small incision will be made to insert it under the skin, and the incision is closed with sutures.
Tunnelled and non-tunnelled catheters are held in place with sutures. To assist with proper location of the catheter, x-ray contrast material (x-ray dye) may be injected through the catheter and x-ray pictures will be taken. You may be asked to hold your breath for several seconds while in the process. During the injection of x-ray contrast material, you may experience a warm feeling or a strange taste in your mouth. Both of these sensations are temporary.
Risks associated with the procedure include those associated with the insertion and positioning of the catheter and those associated with the maintenance and use of the catheter.
Associated with the insertion and positioning of the venous access device are the risks of:
- Pain or discomfort at the catheter insertion site
- Bleeding at the site
- Injury to a blood vessel
- Injury to the entrance of air into the vein (air embolus)
- Injury to the lung (pneumothorax)
- Infection of the blood stream
Risks associated with the x-ray contrast material include:
- Allergic reaction
- Reduced kidney function.
The medications used for the conscious sedation are associated with the risks of aspiration (inhaling food or liquid into your lungs) or respiratory depression.
Risks associated with the maintenance and use of the venous access device include:
- Infection of the catheter which may result in an infection of the blood stream
- Inflammation of the vein (phlebitis)
- Development of a blood clot in the vein (thrombosis).
There may also be other unpredictable risks associated in this procedure, such as death.
Alternatives to the placement of a venous access device include the insertion of a surgically placed central line or continuing with peripheral IV access which requires replacement of a new line every 72 hours.
Please discuss alternatives with your physician if you are unsure about having this procedure.