Central Venous Access Catheter (CVAC)

A central venous access catheter (CVAC) is a tube that is inserted beneath your skin so there is a simple, pain-free way for doctors or nurses to give you nutrients or draw your blood. When you have a CVAC, you are spared the irritation and discomfort of repeated needle injections.

Doctors recommend CVACs for patients who regularly undergo dialysis or chemotherapy treatments, or for patients who frequently receive antibiotic or antifungal infusions or nutritional supplements.

More than 3.4 million CVACs are placed each year and doctors increasingly recommend their use.

There are several types of CVACs, including:

  • Tunneled catheters (you may hear them called Hickman or Broviac catheters)
  • Peripherally-inserted central catheters (sometimes called PICC lines or long lines)
  • Dialysis catheters
  • Implantable ports

Your doctor can explain which one is best for you.

Reprinted with permission of the Society of Interventional Radiology (c) 2004, 2008; www.SIRweb.org. All rights reserved.


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