Preferred Medical

What's the difference between Midline and PICC Catheters?

There are various types of catheters used in the medical field, and common among them are the catheters for delivering medication through the blood vessels. Medication administered in this manner is recommended for cases that require faster effects of the medicine. Let’s take a look at the differences between midline catheters and PICC catheters.

What is a PICC line?

This is a thin and long tube that is usually attached to the peripheral parts of the body. It is more commonly connected to the veins of the arms. Specifically, this line is inserted in the CVS (central venous system).

When the veins are too small or are considered not appropriate for PICC line placement, we consider placing them on the veins of the legs. However, this is rarely performed because the medication will take longer to take effect than intended.

What is a Midline Catheter?

A midline catheter is also considered an insertion catheter for the periphery. Its main difference from the PICC line is that it only reaches the level of the subclavian or axillary vein. The entry point is similar to the PICC in the sense that it is also along the arm’s middle third.

Why A Patient May Need A Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter Or Midline Catheter?

PICC lines are typically attached to easily gain access to the central veins located near the heart. Aside from medication, this is sometimes used to feed liquid nutrients through the veins when oral feeding is not possible at the time.

A PICC catheter is the better choice if you’ll be staying in the hospital for less than a week and will be on heart medication. Because you’re inside the facility, you will have lower risks of infection. The team of medical staff ensures that they follow the sanitation protocols. If you’re to acquire an infection because of the line, it will be dealt with immediately.

If you need to have intravenous treatment for more than a week, you may need to consider having a midline catheter. This is the preferred choice when going outpatient because the risk of infection is lower than when using a PICC line. The following are some of the cases where midline catheters are used:

  • Hydro-electrolyte support
  • Nutritional support
  • Administration of antibiotics or heart-related medication

What To Know About Caring for A PICC or Midline Catheter?

There are various things that you should know about when you’ve had a PICC or a midline catheter inserted.

When should the bandage on a PICC or midline catheter be changed?

There is no rigid timeframe to consider when changing the bandages for the catheters. However, here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Change the bandage a day after the insertion of the PICC or midline catheter.
  • If there are no signs of infection around the insertion point, change the bandage at least once a week. Some signs of infection to look out for include redness around the area, presence of pus, and leaking of unknown liquid discharge.
  • Replace the bandage once it gets out of position and can never be placed back.
  • Get a new bandage once the old one gets dirty, loose, wet, or even moist.
  • When you get additional instructions from the doctor or nurse on bandage replacement, follow the orders. This is the case even if it is not indicated in the guidelines above.

How to check and clean the area around the catheter and change the bandage

It’s enough to perform an external inspection of the area. Look at the bandage and feel for any signs of tenderness. Also, check the guidelines for bandage replacement and see if the current bandage meets any of the criteria indicated. Check the condition of the bandage every eight hours and replace it as needed.

Wash your hands thoroughly before attempting to clean the area. Never touch the catheter with your bare hands. Use a mask and a pair of medical-grade gloves. Remove the bandage and use cleaning pads to scrub the point of catheter application. Let the skin air dry before cleaning the tubing. After this, secure the line by re-inserting the line and placing on fresh bandages.

What is the difference between a midline and PICC line?

A PICC catheter is applied through a vein located in one arm. This is then guided along the larger vein to your chest. On the other hand, a midline catheter is inserted through the upper arm or the elbow region. PICC lines are longer than midline because of the regions that they pass through.

Frequent Questions About PICC Lines & Midline Catheters

We understand that having a PICC or midline catheter is not a simple issue and needs careful deliberation. This is why we’ve included some of the most common questions and answers below. We hope that these can serve as a guide so you can have informed consent in the long run.

Can you draw blood from a midline?

Midline catheters are usually soft. Therefore, they are not suitable for blood extraction.

How long can a PICC line be left in?

You can leave a PICC line in for one and a half years at most. Your doctor will have the final decision on when this should be changed or removed, depending on your current medical status.

Why use a PICC line instead of a central line?

PICC catheter insertion is generally painless and may be used after you are discharged from the hospital. It also has a lower risk of blood vessel damage and skin irritation compared to a central line.

How often should you flush a midline catheter?

Midline catheters are ideally flushed once a week. If it’s not possible within this timeframe, they should be flushed at a maximum of two to four weeks. In some cases, they may need flushing twice a day.

What should be used to flush a PICC or midline catheter?

Typically, 0.9% sodium chloride in 10-ml batches is used for every flushing session.

Do you flush a midline with heparin?

Yes, you can. Flushing with heparin helps prevent blood clots from forming. Aside from the prevention of line blockage, this significantly reduces the risk of having embolisms. It’s important to avoid an embolism to prevent medical emergencies such as strokes.

How long can a midline catheter stay in?

Midline catheters may stay in for an average of two to four weeks. In some cases, they are allowed to stay longer if they are flushing well and there are no signs of infection on site. In this case, the maximum allowed time is 1.5 to two months.

Purchasing Catheters For Hospitals & Medical Settings

If you’re interested in purchasing midline catheters, PICC catheters, or any other quality medical supplies, PreferredMedical is a full-line, national distributor that carries everything you may need and more.

Preferred Medical is known for providing our customers with unbeatable value and superior customer service. In addition to our full inventory from the nation’s largest manufacturers, we also offer an exclusive line of Wolf-Pak® items that lends a cost-effective and quality assured alternative to other products on the market.

Our customer service representatives are standing by to answer your questions Contact us today toll-free at 800-722-7865. We look forward to hearing from you!