Information courtesy of www.thebody.com
- Peripheral intravenous catheters: This is the most common and least invasive method of intravenous access, and involves inserting a small catheter with a needle through the skin into a vein. Peripheral lines are most often used to give fluid or medications or to take blood, and are temporary.
- Midline peripheral catheters: These are more invasive and slightly larger. They are inserted slightly above or below the antecubital space - or the area inside the elbow - and reach a much higher vein with more blood flow. These generally stay in for several weeks, and are used for short-term antibiotics or certain medicines.
- Peripherally inserted central catheters (or PICC lines): This involves inserting a long, thin, flexible tube into one of the large veins of the arm near the bend of the elbow. First, the skin at the area where the PICC line will be inserted is numbed; then, a needle is inserted and removed as the PICC is threaded through it. The catheter is then slid in until the tip sits in a large vein just above the heart, the Superior Vena Cava. The space in the middle of the tube is called the lumen; sometimes, the tube has two or three lumens, which allows for different treatments to be given at the same time. PICC lines are inserted for weeks or even months, and are used to give treatments such as chemotherapy, to administer antibiotics or intravenous fluids, or to take blood samples. IV Access uses ultrasound technology to insert PICCs.