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Central Venous Catheter: Flushing

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These are general guidelines. Your nurse will teach you how to take care of your catheter. Be sure to follow the specific instructions he or she gives you. Call your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

To keep your catheter working right, you will need to flush it with a heparin solution. A heparin solution is a liquid that keeps blood from clotting in your catheter and blocking it.

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Your doctor will give you a prescription for heparin and the supplies that you will need. Many cancer treatment centers send supply kits home to help patients care for their catheters.

You will need to flush your catheter every day and after each use.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly using warm water and soap.
  2. Gather your supplies, and assemble them on a clean area. You will need:
    • Alcohol pads.
    • A 10 mL syringe filled with 3 mL of heparin.
    • A blunt plastic tube called a cannula.
  3. Remove the prefilled heparin syringe and the blunt plastic cannula from their plastic wrappers.
    • Remove the cap from the syringe.
    • Screw the cannula onto the syringe.
    • Do not touch the tip of the syringe or the end of the cannula with your fingers or the work surface.
  4. Remove the cap from the cannula tip.
  5. Check for air bubbles in the syringe. Gently push the plunger of the syringe forward until all of the air is out of the syringe. You should have approximately 2.5 mL of heparin in the syringe. Loosely replace the cap on the syringe.
  6. Clean the end of the catheter with an alcohol swab. Allow the cap to dry.
  7. Remove the tip cover of the catheter and insert the tip of the syringe into the center of the catheter cap.
  8. Unclamp the catheter.
  9. Inject 2.5 mL of heparin into the catheter.
  10. Remove the syringe from the catheter and dispose of it in a needle disposal container. You may use a coffee can with a lid or a needle box. Do not throw your used needles directly into the trash.
  11. Repeat this procedure for each lumen of your catheter. Do not reuse a syringe.
  12. Dispose of your used materials as directed by your nurse.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 14, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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