The central venous catheter is a flexible synthetic (man-made) tube that is usually placed in a large vein in your chest. Sometimes these catheters are placed in a vein in the neck, groin or back. Each central venous catheter has two openings called “ports” or “limbs”. One port takes blood from your body to be cleaned by the dialysis machine and clean blood returns to your body through the other port. The spot where the catheter goes into the skin is called the “exit site.
A central venous catheter can be used while you are waiting for surgery for your arteriovenous fistula or graft. It is also an option if an arteriovenous fistula or graft cannot be made.
Central venous catheters are put in place by a nephrologist, surgeon or a radiologist in the x-ray department or the operating room.
A central venous catheter can be used immediately once it is placed in your vein. There is an increased risk of infection with central venous catheters at both area where the catheter goes into the body, and within the blood stream. Also, there may be damage to the vein where the catheter is placed.