PICC line

I am half way through my chemo cycles and having tests this week to check my progress. I had an MRI yesterday and it all went well with the help of lorazepam to keep me calm. The only hiccup was inserting the cannula needle for the contrast dye, I have been having increasing problems with my poor veins not being good enough, even using a baby needle. It took four attempts yesterday prior to my MRI and is was quite distressing. I have an appointment today for an assessment for a PICC line to be inserted prior to my next chemo cycle next week. I have pondered over this decision since my last chemo cycle and hospital admission for infection. Yesterday's experience has convinced me it is the way forward. Can anyone give me advice regarding the PICC line ?

14 Replies

  • Hi, well done for getting through the MRI, i can't advice on a picc line but can on a portacath, hopefully someone will come on and advise about them .

    I also have pants veins and knew before chemo started I needed to have either a picc line or portacath. I chose to have a portacath as I wanted to continue to play netball and try and be as active as possible which I didn't think I would be able to with a picc line.

    It was straightforward to have, had a general and it was inserted above my right breast between my collar bone and the top swell. It was a god send for me, was so quick having the chemo drips set up and I didn't worry about the chemo damaging the small veins I already had. I have another scar which is more visible but is worth that as was one less thing to worry about!

    Either will do that and hopefully take the distress away for you like it did for me...

    good luck


    Nix x

  • Thank you Nixh this has helped me. I dread going for any cannula treatment since having chemo, I never had a problem before. My poor right arm and hand have been black and blue with the multiple attempt to fine a suitable place. Yesterday after two failed attempts for the MRI they had to get the doctor out and she took another two attempts. She had requested to use my other arm but I have previously been told that is not a good idea as I have cancer on the left side and had sentinel biopsy surgery. I hope my appointment today goes well and I can have the line fitted to avoid any more damage to my veins. I know they have a risk but all the treatments carry a risk. Hope you are keeping well, take care. xx

  • No worries, is a stressful enough time without thinking that someone has to poke multiple holes in you. Still dread having blood taken now as have had the port removed. Were you offered a Port or just a picc line? I was offered either but after some research decided that the Portacath was easier to maintain as once the scar healed I could shower normally and thankfully for me still play netball on my third chemo weeks.

    No you don't want them using the other arm for bloods or blood pressure checks. When I had my right hand preventative mastectomy last November, I woke up to find they'd put a cannula in my foot as they couldn't find a vein in my arm they couldn't use my left arm as I'd had a full node clearance.

    Imagine they'll fit the line no worries as it's been proven your veins won't stand up to much more so ultimately makes their job easier.

    Good luck with the rest of your chemo, I finished last January and it does become a distant memory.. (it's there but way in the back of my mind as I think you learn to appreciate all the good things so much more after). I cold capped so have an abundance of curly hair only problem is can't look at an ice lolly any more (shudders!)

    take care,

    Nix x

  • Just back from the assessment, the Oncologist agreed to me having the PICC line. I am having it fitter next Wednesday ready for my next chemo on the following Friday. I was never offered a port but just glad to be having the PICC fitted. Happy that your hair is growing back, good luck with your future health, take care and thanks for the support. xx

  • Fab news, you won't know yourself, it does speed things up and is deffo less stressful (and painful!!)

    Thanks for the good wishes, same to you xx

  • After bumbling attempts for bloods and CT scan...I requested mine from the start, all with the knowledge from messages here. No problems...also the weekly cleaning and blood tests have been done by the district nurse team at local hospital. If we dont feel well enough to attend a session it can be arranged for them to house visit. Not had house visits yet...we shall see how Docetaxel works. I keep getting told to stock up on painkillers it doesnt sound good. I am well familiar with back pain and ice packs, and the injections can be down to 6, it might not be so bad. At seven legs like lead for a few days...I shall surely finish all the game of throne books soon...down to last two. Not recommended but a big diwnload and a long kindle read.

  • Thanks for the message Berylynn. My next chemo is Docetaxel I too will be stocking up on paon killers. I am hoping it goes well but will find out next week.

    It should be easier with the picc line too so no anxiety over cannula. Only 3 more cyclds to go so keeping positive. Best oc luck and heath. Hope all goes well. Xx

  • Hi Dolbycat

    Yep the picc line is a sound option and it was a vast improvement for me during chemo.

    I had a bad reaction (awful pain and a whole other issue!!) at cannula site (same site as first treatment which I am now complaining about) and then tender and bruised vein in treated forearm following my 2nd fec treatment. Can't use my right arm as surgery affected. The nursing staff were made aware of my pain and I got paracetamol but the pain only went when treatment ended and cannula was removed. As i left that day I asked both the gentlemen present - also being treated via piccs - how invasive they found the picc line and its insertion. Both were extremely pleased and happy it was done, slight discomfort from the local anaesthetic at the start of the procedure no worse than blood test!

    The ONCO nurse had offered me picc line info but I thought my veins would be okay next time, ie by finding an alternative site.

    However the following Tuesday my forearm started to swell so I rang the hospital and advised the acute oncology nurse. The next day I rang back as swelling had increased, went back to hospital for ultrasound scan and was pleased that the head nurse had begun the process for a picc line for me to be inserted for chemo's 3,4,5,& 6. It would take away all my anxiety regarding pain following cannulation and would make treatment easier for the nurses.

    The picc line was flushed regularly at a local mobile chemo unit for which I was fortunate. Otherwise a district nurse would come to my house OR my husband could do it, the nurses trained him and I trust him (he prepares my gcsf injections).

    The procedure itself really was painless after the local and there was a senior ONCO nurse and a nurse in support - the team maintains their 100% infection free record 😁 and it was done in a side room and I am having blood thinner daily but it still went without a hitch. Took about 40 minutes.

    You can buy online a 'limbo' online for £17.50. Its a plastic sleeve with rubber seals at both ends to wear in shower and bath to protect the picc line. I can't remember if you can do gentle stretches for the first week but the info leaflet they give you will tell you this, since then I'm pretty sure I've carried on with the usual post surgery exercises with no consequences to the picc. Oh it did bleed minimally at insertion site a couple of times in first week so I rang the hospital who said as it was enclosed within the dressing should be safe from infection and I rang district nurse who redressed it a couple of days later. All good!!

    All the best Dolbycat! I'm having my picc line out tomorrow after my 6 and final treatment - I am so excited! You will get there!

    Wishing you calm 🙏 Xx

  • Oh dear lord I'm so sorry for writing a book!

  • Thanks Debster this has been really helpful. I now know what to expect and feel very calm about the procedure next week. It will take the strain off my poof veins and hopefully improve the chemo treatments. I will definitely get on line to get the waterproof protection too. I look forward to finishing my chemo and getting on with the next stage. Wishing you good health and recovery. Take care. X

  • I can now report on having a picc line removed: didn't feel a thing! Shower d limbo free today too, hurrah! Ps my limbo was the MD65 half sleeve. I ended up ringing them as the online payment kept crashing, and they take measurements / details over the phone to make sure you get the best fit.

    Al the best Dolbycat, you have got this!


  • Thank you for the update, glad your picc removal went well. xx

  • Sorry Dolbycat, I can't give you any help, but I can offer you a hug and good wishes for making the right decision for you.🌺

  • A quick update on my picc line. Its been quite a week of hospital visits, but well worth the effort. on Wednesday I got the good news that my MRI scan showed that the 3 FEC cycles of my first type of chemo has broken down the large mass tumour into smaller fragments which is a "significant progress" according to the report. I am so happy that all the trials and tribulations of the chemo over the last few months have been worth it. I also had the picc line fitted with no complications. Also my blood test showed I was ready Yesterday for my next part of chemo, the previously dreaded Docetaxel. I was more confident knowing I had the picc line in place and had the reassurance about the T part of my chemo treatment from my good friends on here to support me with good advice. Although it took 4 hrs in total, it all went well and I came home with a bag full of medications to take. I also got a Limbo shower proof cover which looks great and will come in very handy. It was supplied on prescription by my GP after a request note from the Oncologist. So I am feeling very positive and prepared to see what this new chemo throws at me. I will keep you posted. Thank you to you all for the support and good wishes. Hope you are all doing well and enjoying the sun shine, best of luck and good health to you all. xx

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