Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter Infections


A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) infection occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream through or around a central line catheter . A PICC is a long, thin tube that is inserted through a vein in the arm. The catheter is threaded through the arm vein until it reaches a larger vein close to the heart. Commonly called a PICC line, it is used to deliver medication, nutrition, IV fluids, and chemotherapy .
Veins in the Arm
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If bacteria start to grow on the central line catheter , they can easily enter the blood and cause a serious infection. This can lead to a condition called sepsis , which occurs when bacteria overwhelm the body.


Bacteria normally live on the skin. Since the catheter is inserted through your skin, these bacteria will sometimes track along the outside of the catheter. From the catheter, they can get into your bloodstream.

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chances of developing this infection include:
  • Having a catheter for a long time
  • Having a catheter that is not coated with a substance that kills bacteria
  • Having a catheter inserted into a vein in the thigh
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Being in the intensive care unit
  • Having an infection elsewhere in the body or skin


Symptoms may include:
  • Fever
  • Shaking, chills
  • Fast heart rate
  • Redness, swelling, or tenderness at the catheter site
  • Drainage from the catheter site

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