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You may have a short-term IV that is removed after each treatment. Or you may have a central venous catheter. This is a thin tube that is inserted into a large vein with access to your central blood supply. It is left in place as long as needed.
A short-term IV may be placed in the hand or in the arm between the hand and elbow. You may feel a coolness when the IV is started. Treatment usually takes from 30 minutes to 8 hours. The time it takes depends on the number and type of medications, and whether fluids are also being given. The needle is removed when the course of therapy is complete. If inserting the short-term IV becomes difficult, a central venous catheter can be used.
There are 3 types of central venous catheters: PICC, tunneled line, and port access. They can be left in place for weeks or months. The benefits of having a central catheter are that it:
Allows blood to be drawn more easily
Limits repeated needle sticks
May allow more than 1 drug to be given at a time
The risks include:
Clots forming in the catheter
Problems clearing (flushing) the catheter
Leaks or breaks in the catheter
Discuss these risks and benefits with your doctor.
No matter which type of IV access you have, call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of the following:
Itching, rash, hives, wheezing, trouble breathing, or chest pain after receiving chemotherapy
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, taken by mouth, or as advised
Redness, pain, or swelling at or near the catheter site
Drainage or bleeding from the skin around the catheter
The catheter comes out or breaks
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