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A central line is a soft tube, called a catheter, that pediatric surgeons place in a vein. We place access lines in children who receive medication, fluids and nutrients that must be delivered directly into the bloodstream. At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we use central lines to care for infants and children because they have small veins that are often difficult and painful to enter Having a central line or access port helps to avoid multiple needle sticks.
Every member of your child’s care team is trained and experienced in caring for kids. That means from our pediatric surgeons and nurses to our pediatric anesthesiologists we have the knowledge and know-how to provide excellent treatment for kids. We make sure that you and your child understand what is happening, what to expect and what your choices are. We will explain everything in a manner that is easy to understand and age appropriate.
There is a wide variety of reasons why a child may need or benefit from a central line, including:
Pediatric surgeons place central lines and access ports while your child is under anesthesia. Our pediatric anesthesiologists keep your child in a painless, sleep-like state during the procedure.
To perform the operation, the surgeon uses an x-ray, a needle and a catheter that is small in size and designed specifically for a child. During the operation, your child’s surgeon locates the large vein that flows into the heart and makes a needle stick or an incision. Most of the time, the catheter or port is placed in the chest or neck, but can also be done on your child’s arm.
Next, the catheter is threaded into the vein and the tip ends just above the heart. One or two stitches keep the catheter in place. Depending on the type of access line your child receives, they may or may not have a tube exiting their body.
The central line, or access port, is immediately ready to use and within a few days your child is pain-free. Before your family leaves the hospital, your pediatric care team will teach you how to care for your child’s central line. Children can be discharged from the hospital and go home the same day unless other treatments are still needed.
Pediatric surgeons use several factors to decide which type of vascular access device to use for your child, including:
Pediatric surgeons at Children’s Colorado use three main types of devices. Your child’s doctor will decide which one is best.