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A Hickman line is a catheter used for administering long-term intravenous medication and drawing frequent blood samples. It is commonly used in chemotherapy and treatments that require the blood to be removed, filtered and returned to the body, such as dialysis and plasmapheresis. Unlike normal intravenous lines into the arm, which are within the competence of a nurse, it must be inserted under anesthetic by a physician through the jugular vein, into the chest wall and into the superior vena cava. This usually requires radiology for guidance. After insertion, the line is attached by a cuff and a bandage dressing.
Although the Hickman line can be left in between treatments, it's insertion and maintenance does pose a risk of complications. During insertion, bleeding and pneumothorax are distinct possibilities. After insertion, it can cause infection and thrombosis.