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 intravenous (IV) access.

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A midline catheter is used to give IV fluids, blood products, and medicines. One type of midline catheter may also be used to inject a contrast medium for a CT scan (power injection). Advantages of a midline catheter are:

  • It can be used if a patient needs IV access for more than 5–7 days.

  • It can stay in place for up to 1–4 weeks.

  • You will not need to be stuck multiple times for IV restarts.

  • The risk of vein inflammation (phlebitis) is lower than with a short peripheral catheter.


  • A clot can form in the midline catheter or at its tip.

  • Phlebitis. The vein becomes warm, swollen, and tender. A red streak along the vein may develop where the midline catheter is.

  • Leakage (infiltration) of IV fluids or medicine into the surrounding tissue of the vein. This can cause swelling, pain, and tissue injury in the arm with the midline catheter.

  • Infection.

  • Nerve or tendon injury or irritation during midline catheter insertion.


  • Wash your hands before and after caring for and using your midline catheter.

  • Scrub the cap of your midline catheter with a new alcohol prep for 14 seconds. Allow it to completely dry each time you connect the syringe or tubing to your midline.

  • Do not get the midline catheter dressing wet. Your caregiver can wrap the midline catheter if you want to take a shower.

  • Do not pull on the midline catheter or tubing. This can dislodge the midline catheter from the vein. If the midline catheter is dislodged, the IV fluids or medication you are getting can leak into the surrounding tissue.

  • Do not allow your blood pressure to be taken in the arm with the midline catheter.

  • Do not allow your arm with the midline catheter to be used for other IV sticks.

  • Blood draws from the midline catheter should be limited or avoided.


  • The dressing is loose and the midline catheter insertion site is exposed.

  • There is drainage, redness, swelling, discomfort, or warmth in the arm with the midline catheter.

  • The midline catheter is partially or completely pulled out.

  • You are unable to flush your midline catheter.

  • Your catheter is broken or leaking.

  • You have chills or fever.