A central venous catheter (CVC) is a flexible, hollow tube made of soft silicone. An interventional radiologist places the catheter through the skin and into a vein in the chest or neck. The tip of the catheter is threaded through the vein to a point just above the heart. There will be a catheter exit site on your chest, and several inches of the catheter will remain outside of the body.
The external portion of the catheter will have two or three ports, or lumens, that have special connectors on the ends that can be used to draw blood for lab tests and to administer chemotherapy, medications, IV fluids and blood products.
When not in use, a CVC must be flushed regularly with a heparin solution in order to keep the catheter open. Instructions on how to care for the catheter will be provided to patients and caregivers.