Picc line - does it hurt ?

I am due to have a picc line soon and would love to know whether or not it hurts. I was looking it up on the internet and found a site where a man had posted pictures of his wife having one put in and the amount of blood was unbelievable - has put me right off.
Also what about the few days following the procedure - is it painful
Many thanks - Melx

i would like to know too as im having one put in
mel where you having yrs done?

My PICC insertion was very straightforward and there wasn’t any blood to speak of. You’ll be given a local anaesthetic, and if you can see the scan monitor, it’s probably easier for most of us to look at that.
The only problem was waiting for someone take me to the X-ray department; it was supposed to be a porter with a wheelchair, because you can and I did feel a bit dizzy just aftewards. After a while I was all right to walk as long as someone came with me. Occasionally they have to adjust the position a little, to make sure the end is not too close to your heart.

It is uncomfortable at first, and I was told to take paracetamol and to put a hotwater bottle or heat pads on my arm and shoulder for any pain. There was a *little* bleeding around the bottom of the line over the first week or so, but that was all, just a couple of times.

To be honest, I did have some further discomfort, partly while I learned how to prevent the various clips and caps from rubbing my skin or getting caught and pulled by clothing. My skin is sensitive, and sensitive to adhesives, so it was important to tell the nurses this. I got a soft stretch jersey sleeve to put over it, which I cut in two, and I also cut up the largest tubi-grip I could get into short lengths that just covered the dressings and fittings. This might not be such a problem in warmer weather, if you can wear loose sleeves or short sleeves. I got a cheap plastic cover for the bath and shower; you have to pull the ends really tight and keep that arm out of the water.

What worked in the end was that the nurses used extra gauze to pad and cover the plastic bits, they changed the size of the dressing each time it was cleaned and flushed or with treatments and they changed the places where the clip and cap were taped down each time. We worked this out together. There are different arrangements for the weekly cleaning and flushing, but as I am near the hospital and they encouraged me to have it done there, I did. Sometimes a district nurse can come to your house or a friend or family member can be shown how to do it. This only takes a few minutes.

I did find all the way through that stretching that arm could be uncomfortable after a very short time, and that I needed to keep it a bit warmer, for example draping a scarf or cardigan over just that arm or keeping it under the duvet at night when I threw it off otherwise. But this was occasional, and not a big problem. I think I may have had a few more problems than many, who say they had no problems at all, but certainly there was nothing dramatic, just some occasional discomfort.

It was removed Friday and it was out before I realised. Hurray! I had to leave another surgical dressing on for 24 hours, but when I took that off, there were only two tiny scabs, and one of those has gone. The other has just a very small mark around it. I do have a tender swollen area on my arm, but that may be from the removal of the bits of plastic.

I hope that answers any concerns you have. If you do have pain and there is any sign at all of infection, then of course you must report that at once, but I don’t think that is particularly common.

Good luck,


Hi. My PICC line was put in just before my 2nd or maybe 3rd FEC because my veins didn’t cope with the FEC. I only wish I’d had it put in sooner as it made life much simpler thereafter. Yes there was a lot of blood but it was completely painless. I looked away the whole time and I only know about the blood because my friend told me afterwards. The procedure itself just took minutes. There was a bit of mild discomfort during the first couple of weeks, I seem to remember that it was something to do with the veins reacting a bit to having a foreign object inserted but that settled down. I quite enjoyed having to go to hospital more regularly to get it flushed etc as it meant more contact with the lovely supportive chemo nurses and a chance to speak about any concerns. Please don’t worry. I found it to be a good thing to have.

Hi there! I have to say my picc line was painless and very straightforward. I don’t remember seeing blood as looking at the US monitor was fascinating. Local anaethsetic was great. No obvious discomfort later. I kept the area warm for 48 hours as directed. I soon forgot it was there and taking bloods and chemo have all been through the PICC. A district nurse comes to my house once a week to flush the line and dress it. It is coming out tomorrow with my last chemo. I’m looking forward to long soaks in the bath and not wearing a plastic sleeve. I have watched ladies being having a cannula fitted in the chemo suite and it looks really uncomfortable sometimes, so I’m really glad I had my PICC. I like you, was apprehensive and didn’t sleep the night before. I now wonder why I worried about it. I would recommend it to everyone having FEC or IV chemo.

Hi I delayed having PICC line put in because i was terrified…silly mistake, it was absolutely painless and have suffered no discomfort from it whatsoever. I had it put in on the weds and had my chemo thru it on the thurs. The relief knowing i do not have to be cannulated anymore is huge! My OH was shown how to flush the line so i dont even need to go to the hospital for that.
My only regret was waiting till EC4 till having it put in.

Good luck

Sal x

Thank you so much for replying to me - I feel alot better about it now.
Thanks again

Hi all! ( and Beardie)

I had a PICC in from Feb. to Sept. last year and found it excellent for chemo. It was only a bit sore for about a day and I had no trouble with it at all until Aug., when chemo. had finished, and then it did become infected and later I had a nasty allergy to the dressings used by someone other than my usual chemo. (at home) nurses. Had it removed soon after. All in all - hassle free apart from the obvious stuff - didn’t find the bathing sleeve that good on its own - so we had to supplement it with clingfilm. This is not a job you can do yourself as it has to be wound on quite tightly - but not too tightly! I didn’t dare go in the shower as normal, so used to only bath once or twice a week as it was quite a performance! Did wash various areas daily, though! A wide tubigrip bandage ( from Boots) is invaluable for everyday wear over it and you can cut them to fit too. Annoying not to be able to go swimming on holidays too, but a LOT better than painfull vein-hunting!

All the best, Sarahx

Hi my picc line went in really well and I am now 6 days on. Never looked so never saw the blood, some discomfort during the week but hot water bottle on the site has helped,had bloods taken through it, had chemo through it and its brilliant!! Never hurt going in either. Rachel

this question is to those of you that have had the picc line , was the line fitted to the opposite arm from bc ? reason im asking is since having wle i havent been ale to sleep on bc side and everytime i have had bloods done they always take it from right arm saying left been through enough just asking cos i was hoping sleep would seen catch up thanks

Where the line is fitted depends a bit on whether you still have lymph nodes on the BC side or not; if you have some but not all, different units seem to have different policies. If you’ve had an axillary clearance then the PICC will be fitted to the other arm, just as the chemo would be administered through a cannula in the other arm. It’s a nuisance if this happens to be your dominant arm, but you get used to that quickly. I can sleep on the BC side now, and eventually I learned how to sleep on the PICC side by keeping my arm folded out from under my body, but I usually sleep on the other side and at the moment I have to keep my head raised to breathe freely at night in any case. (Just snuffles and hay fever.)


I had a PICC from July to October of last year and it was the best decisioin I made (upon recommendation of the chemo nurse). In my experience, it was relatively easy to put in, the procedure took about 45 minutes. Bit of blood, but you can opt to look away and it’s cleared up before you know it. You get a local anaesthetic and afterwards an x-ray to check it’s in the right place.
I showered daily with some clingfilm around the arm, which went fine. I did use some cotton wool around the plastic ‘cap’ (not sure what to call it!) so that it would not dig into my skin when sleeping on the arm. During the day I wore one of those tubigrips around it. I had the PICC cleaned weekly at my hospital, took 10 mins, no more.
Administration of chemo was just so much easier with the picc, no hunting for veins. To date, I have no painful veins, just a small reddish/brown 5mm mark that reminds me of the picc.
My picc was fitted on my non-affected side.
Nikki x

Hi, I had my PICC in my non affected arm, i keep it covered in a small piece of tubi grip and am able to sleep on that side no bother, i honestly dont know its there and i always sleep with my arm tucked under me, my picc is inserted quite high up i think almost on my bicep cos thats where my nice big veins were …so the nurse said!!

Sal x


I had PICC line put in two weeks ago in my unaffected arm as that’s where the radiologist advised. Afterwards it was slightly sore and I was quite aware of it all the time, but now I don’t really think about it most of the time. I am able to sleep on my PICC line side quite easily without putting any weight on the part where it goes into my arm.

Helen x