Understanding PICC Lines

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Melissa: So, as if finding out I had cancer wasn't scary enough, now my doctors say they want to put a tube in me. A tube! What?!

On a scale from zero to freaking out, I am freaking out!

Luckily, I've got the perfect friends to help me figure all this out--the Medikidz!

Skindy, when you said we should get out for a bit, I thought you meant for a walk, not a flight through space!


Skindy: Pffft, walking is boring, and I don't do boring!

Besides, this is the best way to find out what a PICC line is!

Drop us here, Abacus!

First things first: PICC stands for Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter


Abacus: Peripheral means on the outside, inserted means put inside, central means in the middle, and catheter means tube.


Skindy: If we put that all together, it means a tube that is put into the middle of your body from the outside to the inside.


Melissa: This is awesome! But why would I need a tube like that?


Skindy: If you have an illness, you might need lots of blood tests and injections, which means lots of getting poked with a needle!

To avoid those needles, a lot of kids get a PICC line. It could have one or two openings, called ports.

This end of the tube stays outside the body at the crook of your elbow. Let's head inside!

The doctors and nurses use this end to give you medicines and to carry out blood tests. Medicines travel through the tube, just like we are doing now.


Melissa: But travel to where?


Narrator: In the bloodstream…


Skindy: The tube goes under the skin and straight into the bloodstream!


Melissa: Whoa, cool!


Skindy: Yeah, pretty cool! Come on, let's get a closer look at the bloodstream!


Melissa: I never realized how busy my blood was!


Skindy: Your blood is made up of cells and liquids that carry important nutrients and messages all around your body.

What's inside your blood can tell your doctors a lot about how you're doing, which is why blood tests are so important!


Melissa: Um hey, cells, how are you doing?


Red Blood Cell 1: Great!


Platelet 1: Good.


White Blood Cell 1: I could use a nap!


Red Blood Cell 2: Hungry!


Skindy: The blood also carries medicines, like chemotherapy or antibiotics.


Skindy: Having a PICC Line going straight into your bloodstream means that blood tests can be taken at any time, and medicines can be delivered at anytime without needing any more pokes from needles.


Melissa: Oh believe me, I am all for not getting poked by needles, but how does the PICC line get inside my body in the first place?


Skindy: Great question! Your PICC line will be inserted at the hospital. When you arrive, you'll meet the doctor or specialist nurse who is going to put your PICC line in.

Let's go back into space!

They'll take a cool picture of the inside of your arm using an ultrasound machine! An ultrasound helps the doctor or nurse find the best vein in your arm for the PICC line.


Melissa: What was that?


Skindy: Germ!

Gotcha! It's very important that germs don't get inside your PICC line. Germs can cause infections and make you very unwell.

When inserting the PICC line, your doctor and nurse will wear special clothes, including gowns, gloves, and hats, to protect you from germs.

You will also have a sheet covering your body. There will be a small hole in the sheet where the PICC line goes into your arm.

 

Skindy: Skindy to Abacus: Germ Alert!


Abacus: Abacus to Skindy: Understood-deploying antiseptic.


Skindy: Your doctor or nurse will use antiseptic to get rid of any germs on your skin.

Next, you will have some local anesthetic on your skin.

Local anesthetic is a type of medicine that numbs your skin so you don't feel it.

They will then put the PICC line through your skin and into your vein.

A needle is used to put the PICC line in. This might feel a bit uncomfortable, but it won't hurt because of the local anesthetic.

Once the PICC line is in, the needle comes out and the tube is left inside your arm!

A dressing -- like a big bandage -- will be put over the PICC Line to keep it clean and dry.

After that, you'll just have a quick x-ray taken to make sure that the PICC Line is in the right place.

Activating x-ray satellite now! Everything's looking good!

And voila, you're done and the PICC line is ready to use for tests and medicines.


Melissa: Wow, that doesn't sound too bad at all!


Skindy: Right! Come on, let's get out of here!


Narrator: After a quick stop at literally the best ice cream place in the galaxy, we find our heroes in Medikidz HQ...


Skindy: What's cool about the PICC line is that you'll still be able to do most of the things you love, like going to school and playing sports.


Melissa: Pffft, who loves going to school?


Skindy: Your nurse will give you waterproof covers so that you can take a shower or bath. It's super important to keep the PICC line clean and dry all the time.

Let your parents and your nurse know if the area around the PICC line looks red or swollen, or if it feels sore. This might mean that there is an infection.


Melissa: Whoa, that doesn't look good!


Skindy: Nope, which is why it's so important to take proper care of your PICC line.


Narrator: PICC lines are not permanent, and will be removed once therapy is done.


Melissa: Thanks, Skindy. I feel so much better knowing what a PICC line is.

On a scale form zero to freaking out, now I'm totally at a zero!


Skindy: Educating, kicking butt, knowing the best ice-cream joints--these are just what I do!

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