central venous cathetermedical dictionary

<equipment>

A small, flexible plastic tube inserted into the large vein above the heart, usually the subclavian vein, through which access to the blood stream can be made. This allows drugs and blood products to be given and blood samples withdrawn painlessly.

Some of the catheters have more than one lumen (double or triple) and can be used to administer more than one drug simultaneously. Such catheters can be left in place for many weeks to months. The main complications are sepsis or infection, and the risk of thrombosis.

Synonyms: central line.

(24 Mar 2004)