Tunneled Catheter: Before Your Procedure

Skip Navigation

What is tunneled catheter placement?

A tunneled catheter is a soft, flexible tube that runs under your skin from a vein in your chest or neck to a large vein near your heart. One end of the tube stays outside the body. This catheter is a type of central vascular access device. You may have it for weeks, months, or longer.

The catheter gives you medicine, blood products, nutrients, or fluids over a long period of time. It makes getting these things more comfortable for you because they are put into the tube. You are not poked with a needle every time. The catheter may be used to draw blood for tests only if another vein, such as in the hand or arm, can't be used. The end of the catheter sometimes has two or three openings. This is so that you can get more than one type of fluid or medicine at a time.

Your doctor will give you medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. Two small cuts (incisions) are made in your body. Your doctor will thread the catheter up a vein in your chest or neck.

After the procedure, you will probably have small bandages where the doctor put in the tube and where it comes out of your body. The area may feel sore for a few days. You may have stitches. Sometimes glue is used instead of stitches.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

 
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  •  
    Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  •  
    Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  •  
    Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  •  
    You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You may get medicine that relaxes you or puts you in a light sleep. The area being worked on will be numb.
  •  
    The procedure will take about 1 hour.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter A227 in the search box to learn more about "Tunneled Catheter: Before Your Procedure".




The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.