What is a Hickman catheter?
A Hickman catheter is a tunneled central line that is normally inserted via a vein just above the collar bone. The catheter may contain several lumens (channels). It exits the skin on the chest wall.
How is a Hickman catheter inserted?
It is inserted under imaging guidance, normally a combination of ultrasound and x-ray. An injection of x-ray dye is normally used to confirm the appropriate positioning of the catheter tip, within the largest vein in the body (adjacent to the heart).
The procedure is normally performed under twilight sedation and local anaesthetic. A temporary suture will be fastened to the skin exit site which may be removed after a fortnight.
How is the Hickman catheter used?
The line can be accessed, utilising strict sterile technique. The Hickman catheter may be accessed to withdraw blood for testing, to monitor your progress. The Hickman catheter may also be used to administer medications (such as chemotherapy, antibiotics) and blood products (transfusions, stem cell transplantation).