Venous Access (Hickmann Lines)
A tunnelled Hickmann line is required when patients
need long term venous access for drug treatments.
Placing a silicone catheter into a large fast
flowing vein allows drugs to be rapidly diluted.
This reduces the risk of the vein blocking (thrombosing).
Multiple injections can be made through the Hickmann
line, thus avoiding the need for repeated needles.
Since a Hickmann line is tunnelled under the skin,
the risk of infection in the vein is also reduced.
Using new minimally-invasive techniques, it is
possible to place these lines rapidly and safely,
usually under local anaesthetic. The procedure
usually takes 15-25 minutes. A Duplex (ultrasound)
machine is used to identify the jugular vein,
and a portable x-ray machine is used to check
the position of the line after it has been inserted.
Patients can usually return home and / or start
their drug treatment the same day.
on image to enlarge
Once the drug treatment
has been completed, removal of the line is straightforward.
Short-term risks of line insertion include collapsed
lung or bleeding (both occur very rarely). Longer-term
risks include infection of the line or blocking
of the line / vein.