PICC line

Has anyone had to have a PICC line for their chemo? I have just had my second FEC and it was really difficult to find a vein. It ended up with the same vein as last time being used and apparently they can’t use the same vein more than 3 times max. We talked about a PICC line but I feel that would be really bad news for me as I have to have a year’s Herceptin after this which would mean no swimming until 2009. Apparently the line has to be flushed out every week as well so this would make it very diffficult to even take a holiday.

I am feeling more upset than I have since the initial diagnosis as I wonder when my life will ever get back to normal. They will have to see how I go next time, but if there are problems then, there doesn’t appear to be any alternative.


Hi Anne

I haven’t had to have a PICC line put in, as I’m lucky enough to have sufficiently robust veins so far. However, I find them quite fascinating and have made a point of chatting to other patients who do have them (just in case, you know?). The universal response has been that they are not a problem at all - quite the reverse, in fact. Everyone says they are easy, painless and that the insertion process is no worse than having a regular cannula put in; and I’ve never heard anyone complaining of problems.

One lady had trouble convincing the district nurse to flush hers out, so the chemo nurse taught her and her partner how to do it themselves. They are off on holiday next week, so don’t be too downhearted!

I’m sure lots of people will share their first-hand experiences with you; I just wanted to reassure you that you may not find it as limiting or unpleasant as you are imagining.

Hope this helps. Stockbeck

Hi Stockbeck

Thank you. The nurse did say about teaching my husband to flush it out but we thought she was joking! I have also just been told about a portacath as well which seems to be another alternative, so I am starting to feel better about it all.

Thanks again

Hi Anne,

I had alot of trouble with my veins so I had a PICC line put in. The process itself was totally pain free but I didn’t get on with mine too well and asked to have it taken out after only a couple of days. It was bigger than I had expected and a bit of a pain when it came to showers and baths as I wasn’t allowed to get it wet. In just a few days I knew I would rather have hassle free showers and struggle for a vein than have the PICC! Saying this, I can really see the benefits of having it done and some people get on really well with it. One girl I was told about had a few bandages to cover hers and dyed them different colours! Best of luck, Lizz x

I have a line in and it is a pain Like you I swam and just about to start herceptin keep thinking about having it in another year. I think it is a really good idea to keep it at the moment. Then after you have finished chemo and had rads perhaps you can have it taken out. I don’t relish the idea of keep having it flushed so having read the post off Stockbeck I am going to see if my daughter who is a nurse, can do it. Love Eileen

Lizz and Eileen

Thank you for your replies. I am trying to get more info about this and also about a portacath which seems a better option but has to be put in under general anaesthetic and is not, I’m told, normally available in this area.

If I do have a PICC line I will have to be shown how to flush it because I can’t go without a holiday before 2009!! I’m not a nurse and not normally good with anything clinical but at least it would be in my left arm and I am right handed.



I was unlucky with my PICC the nurse couldn’t get the line in.

However, that said if you want a cover for the PICC line to making showering/bathing easy, go to the LIMBO website, and I would suggest that you telephone them to order a PICC cover and they will send it by return of post, cost £12.25 including p & p. Probably wouldn’t help for swimming but it would be worth asking.

Best of luck.