Vascular Access

Port-a-catheter, tunneled dialysis, pheresis catheters, and PICC lines are all vascular access devices. Placement of these devices involves the insertion of a flexible and sterile thin plastic tube, or catheter, into a large vein in the neck (internal jugular vein), chest (subclavian vein), or groin (femoral vein).

Some common uses of central venous catheters include:

  • Blood transfusions
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hemodialysis
  • Intravenous antibiotic therapy
  • Intravenous medications
  • Long-term intravenous feeding for nutritional support
  • Photopheresis
  • Plasmapheresis
  • Poor venous access

Catheters can stay in place from days to years, depending on the needs of each patient.

Once the catheter is no longer needed, it can easily be removed at the clinic under sterile conditions and a local anesthetic.

Preparing for Catheter Placements

Catheter placements are performed with conscious sedation, a process in which you are given medication to make you sleepy but not unconscious. Conscious sedation requires that you not eat a meal for 8 hours before the procedure.

Most medications can be taken the morning of the procedure except for medications that affect blood clotting (aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, Coumadin, etc). If you are taking one of these medications, you may need to stop taking it or be switched to another medicine for a few days before the procedure. This will be coordinated by your doctor, if necessary. 

What to Expect After Catheter Placement Procedures

Catheter placement procedures are performed by a professional interventional radiology team, consisting of a physician, technician, and a nurse in a sterile, surgical environment.

After the procedure, you will be given instructions describing care for the catheter. You should anticipate some discomfort following the procedure, but the pain is generally controlled with over-the-counter medication.

How We’re Different

Our interventional radiologists specialize in catheter placements and treating the areas of the body involved.

In addition to the training that all radiologists receive, these specialists have additional fellowship training in interventional radiology, plus extensive real-world experience.

Our team of interventional radiologists and physician assistants coordinates your complete care – from imaging evaluation to post-procedure follow-up – maintaining a high level of communication with you throughout the process.

In addition, we coordinate closely with experts from across the UT Southwestern community when necessary.

Request an Appointment

To meet with an interventional radiologist at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas, or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.