Central Venous Lines

Maine Medical Center is committed to helping you care for your central line. Your central line may be called one of the following: PICC (pronounced pick), Broviac, Hickman, Implanted Port (or Port-a-Cath), or a tunneled line/catheter.

Having a central line helps to make sure you get the treatment you need as prescribed by your healthcare providers. You can receive medications and fluids directly into your bloodstream through your central line. But having a central line can be risky. It is important that you are aware of the risks, signs of complications, how to care for your central line, and who to notify with concerns.

Why is This Important?

Central line infections are very serious. Knowing the proper care of your central line will help prevent complications.

If anyone, including a health care provider, is not caring for your line properly, it’s important for you to speak up. By saying something, you increase communication with your health care provider, while hopefully decreasing your own concerns and risk for complications.

When Should You Call Your Doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • The flow into your line is slower than usual
  • Fever over 100.5 F (38.0 C) or chills
  • Redness, swelling, pain, or drainage at your line
  • Rash following medication administration, or in the area around your line
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Diarrhea more than 3 times a day
  • Frequency or burning with urination

Steps for Providers Caring for Your Central Line: PICC or Tunneled Line

Accessing/Flushing:

  • Clean your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water
  • Scrub the hub/cap with an alcohol pad for 15 seconds
  • Flush with saline
  • Administer medications/fluids
  • Flush again with saline
  • Flush with heparin, if instructed by your provider
  • Line should be flushed daily when not in use

Dressing Change:

  • Wear a mask
  • Clean the surface where you put your supplies
  • Clean your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water and put on clean gloves
  • Remove old dressing
  • Put on sterile gloves
  • Clean the site with chlorhexidine prep for 30 seconds
  • Allow skin to dry
  • Apply and date new dressing that has chlorhexidine

Steps for Providers Caring for Your Central Line Port

Accessing/Flushing Your Port:

  • Wear a mask
  • Clean your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water
  • Wear sterile gloves
  • Clean the site with chlorhexidine prep for 30 seconds
  • Allow skin to dry
  • Insert Huber needle by grasping with 2 fingers and pushing into reservoir at a 90 degree angle
  • Draw back to get blood return
  • Flush with saline
  • Port should be flushed every 30 days when not in use

Dressing Change:

  • Wear a mask
  • Clean the surface where you put your supplies
  • Clean your hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water and put on clean gloves
  • Remove old dressing
  • Put on sterile gloves
  • Clean the site with chlorhexidine prep for 30 seconds
  • Allow skin to dry
  • Apply and date new transparent dressing

Educational Videos

The videos available on this page are to remind you, your family, and your health care team how line care should occur. They provide demonstrations and are not meant to provide complete instructions for independent care of your central line. Should you have additional questions, contact your healthcare provider. There are 5 videos available for you to review.

Introduction to Central Lines 


Dressing and Cap Changes for Your Central Line





Flushing and Drawing Blood from a Central Line




Accessing and De-accessing Your Implanted Port (if applicable)




Home Care for Your Central Line