What’s the Difference Between a CVC and a PICC?

CVC, PICC Venous catheters are an everyday means of issuing dialysis treatment, administering medications, and taking blood. While IVs are the most known type of line used in medical scenarios, when catheters are required, a medical professional might choose a CVC or PICC.

Understanding the differences between the two types of catheters is important for your health. Here’s an overview.

What Is a CVC Catheter?

central venous catheter or CVC is referred to as a central venous access catheter or central line. The catheter is connected to a large tube shaped like a Y and goes through a large central vein. The most common vein sources for a CVC are the groin, chest, or neck.

CVC catheters are inserted deeply, much more so than IVs, to ensure access to bigger veins. The cord is also longer than that of a standard IV, and this type of catheter may remain in the body for lengthier periods.

Non-tunneled and tunneled are the two kinds of CVCs. A non-tunneled catheter goes in or by the groin, chest, or neck for a short time, while a tunneled catheter goes beneath the skin and is a longer-term CVC.

What Is a PICC Catheter?

PICC catheter, short for peripherally inserted central catheter, is another long-term catheter that’s recommended for non-peripheral medication administration. The tube is soft, like with a CVC, and connects to a superficial vein. This small vein in the arm links to bigger veins around the heart.

PICCs can stay in the arm for extended periods of time, up to weeks or months.

How Are the Two Different?

Here are some evident disparities between CVCs and PICCs.

  • Usage: PICCs are often the recommended choice for medication and treatment administration, whereas CVCs can be used for that task, as well as dialysis and taking blood.
  • Shape: CVCs are Y-shaped, whereas a PICC line has a standard tube shape like what you see in an IV.
  • Types: You can receive one of two types of CVCs, and a PICC line has no subtypes.
  • Bloodstream access: CVCs are designed to provide access to the blood, so they go deeper than PICC lines.
  • Placement areas: PICC lines are only used in the arms, while CVCs can be placed in the groin, chest, and neck. The placements are due to the different types of veins both catheters reach.

Contact the Vascular and Vein Specialists at Metropolitan Vascular Institute

Metropolitan Vascular Institute administers vascular access catheters like PICCs and CVCs for dialysis, chemotherapy, blood draws, and more. Learn more about our available services by calling (301) 374-8540 or using the online contact form to request an appointment.

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