Central venous catheter

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Central venous catheters (CVC) or lines (CVL) refer to a wide range of central venous access devices but can broadly be divided into four categories. They may be inserted by physicians, surgeons or radiologists.

  • peripherally inserted central catheters (PICC)
  • non-tunnelled CVCs
    • e.g. used in ICU or ED for emergent or short-term (<7-10 days) access
    • e.g. Vascath used for haemodialysis, apheresis, stem cell collection, etc
  • tunnelled CVCs
    • e.g. Hickman catheters, Broviac line, Permcath
  • implantable ports
    • e.g. Port-a-Cath, Infus-a-Port
    • may be located in the chest or arm (brachial)
    • may be single or dual lumen

Central venous catheters can be inserted into a variety of veins, most commonly including:

Policy varies by institution but tip placement for neck / thoracic / upper limb CVCs in the superior vena cava or at the cavo-atrial junction is generally acceptable. There is a limited differential of left paramediastinal catheter positions.


Chest x-ray
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Article Information

rID: 26965
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Central venous catheter - overview
  • Central venous catheters
  • Central venous catheter (CVC)
  • Central venous catheters (CVCs)
  • Central venous line (CVL)

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    Case 1: permacath
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    PICC line
    Case 2: normal PICC
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    Case 3: normal Hickman's catheter (or line)
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    Case 4: normal chest port
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    Case 5: normal double lumen chest port
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    Case 6: normal triple lumen non-tunneled CVC
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    Case 7: normal right Vascath
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    Case 8: normal right brachial port
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    Case 9: with pinch off syndrome
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    Case 10: retained guide wire in IVC
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    Case 11: sheared guide wire fragment
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    Case 12: curled in the internal jugular vein
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    Case 13: infusothorax
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    Case 14: in the accessory hemiazygous vein via the left superior intercostal vein
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