Midline Catheter
Midline Catheter

Midline Catheter

A midline catheter is a thin, flexible tube that is inserted into a vein in the upper arm or at the bend in the elbow. Its tip ends at or near the armpit (axillary) area. A midline catheter is a type of IV access.

What are the risks?

Generally, midline catheters are safe to use. However, problems may occur, including:
  • Clots. A clot can form in the midline catheter or at its tip.
  • Phlebitis. This is when the vein becomes warm, swollen, and tender. A red streak may develop along the vein where the midline catheter is inserted.
  • Leakage (infiltration) of IV fluids or medicine into the surrounding tissue of the vein. This can cause swelling, pain, and tissue damage in the arm with the midline catheter.
  • Infection.
  • Nerve or tendon injury or irritation during midline catheter insertion.

How are midline catheters used?

A midline catheter is used to:
  • Give IV fluids and nutrients.
  • Give medicines.
  • Draw blood.
  • Give blood back to the body, such as during a blood transfusion or hemodialysis.
  • Inject a contrast dye for a CT scan (power injection).
  • Provide IV access for treatment that lasts 1–4 weeks.

Follow these instructions at home:

Follow instructions from your health care provider about how to take care of your midline catheter at home. To make sure that your catheter works well:
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before and after caring for or using for your midline catheter. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Before connecting a syringe or tubing to your midline catheter, scrub the tip of your catheter with a new alcohol wipe for 10–14 seconds. Allow the catheter tip to dry completely. Do this every time before you connect the syringe or tubing to your midline.
  • Do not let the midline catheter bandage (dressing) get wet. Cover it with a watertight covering when you take a bath or a shower. Change the dressing right away if it becomes wet.
  • Do not take baths, swim, or use a hot tub until your health care provider approves.
  • Do not pull on the midline catheter or tubing. Doing that can move the midline catheter out of its place in the vein. If the midline catheter is pulled out of place, the IV fluids or medicine you are getting can leak into the surrounding tissue.
  • Do not allow blood pressure monitoring or needle punctures on the side where the midline catheter is located.
  • Do not lift anything that is heavier than 10 lb (4.5 kg) or the limit given by your health care provider.
Check your insertion site every day for signs of infection. Check for:
  • Redness, swelling, or pain.
  • Fluid or blood.
  • Warmth.
  • Pus or a bad smell.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • The dressing is loose and the midline catheter insertion site is exposed.
  • The skin is irritated where the dressing has been applied.

Get help right away if:

  • You have chills or fever.
  • There is bleeding at the site where the midline catheter enters your arm.
  • There is drainage, redness, swelling, discomfort, or warmth in the arm with the midline catheter.
  • You are unable to flush your midline catheter or it feels blocked.
  • The midline catheter is partially or completely pulled out.
  • Your catheter is broken or leaking.
  • You are dizzy.
  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You have an irregular heartbeat.

Summary

  • A midline catheter is a thin, flexible tube that is inserted into a vein in the upper arm or at the bend in the elbow.
  • A midline catheter is used to give IV fluids or nutrients, give medicines, draw blood, give blood back to the body, inject a dye for a CT scan (power injection), or provide IV access for treatment that lasts 1–4 weeks.
  • Check your insertion site every day for signs of infection. Signs include redness, swelling, pain, fluid, blood, warmth, pus, or a bad smell.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.