Tunnelled Line Insertion

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This information sheet will explain the procedure you are going to have. It is very important that you follow the instructions from your hospital consultant.

What is a tunnel line?
A Tunnelled line is a tube that is inserted into one of the large veins in your chest, so that the Doctor/ Nurses can give you medication or feed you and take blood samples, more comfortably, over a longer period of time.

Will I need to stay in hospital?
This procedure can usually be done as a day case, depending on your medical condition, treatment regime and how you recover. Sometimes you may have to come in the day before your procedure.

Do I need to do anything before the procedure?
It is very important that you do not eat or drink anything for 6 hours before the time of your appointment. However, you must continue to take any essential medication with a small amount of water. If you are diabetic you will be advised about your medication by the medical staff. Please telephone the department on 01908 996934 for advice if you take aspirin, Warfarin, Clopidogrel or any drug that makes you bleed more easily.

What will happen in the ward?
On arrival you will be admitted and someone will discuss the procedure with you. Prior to your appointment you will be asked to put on a gown. A member of staff will take your temperature,
pulse and blood pressure. The Imaging Assistants will come and collect you and transfer you to the x-ray department.

What will happen during the procedure and who will be there?
When you arrive you will be greeted by the staff working in the department. They will check your details and go through a pre-procedure checklist with you. You will be transferred from your bed onto the x-ray table and attached to a monitor. The Radiologist ( a Doctor that specialises in x-rays and ultrasound) will perform an ultrasound scan to locate the vein in your chest and your skin will be marked. A nurse will cover you with large sterile sheet and assemble the instruments to assist the Radiologist. The radiographers will explain how the x-ray equipment works and what is required of you to assist with the procedure. After an injection of local anaesthetic into the skin of your chest the Radiologist will pass a needle into the vein. They will then pass a fine wire through this which will guide the line; some dye will be injected into the line to confirm that it is in the correct position. Once this has been done the line may be secured with a stitch and covered with a clear dressing

Will I feel anything during the procedure?
The radiologist will numb your skin with some local anaesthetic. You will feel a sharp pain, but only momentarily, and then some pushing. It is important that you tell the Nurse or Doctor how you
feel to ensure that they can keep you comfortable.

How long will the procedure take?
This varies from patient to patient but takes approximately one hour.

What happens after the procedure?
Once the procedure is complete you will be transferred back to the ward. When you are on the ward you will be asked to remain on your bed for 3 hours. During this time you will not be
allowed to eat or drink anything. A member of staff on the ward will check your wound, blood pressure, pulse and temperature at regular intervals.

What are the possible complications?
1) Allergic reaction – Any of the drugs that we use could cause an allergic reaction that can range from a slight rash through to an anaphylactic reaction (severe allergic reaction).
2) Infection – All equipment used is sterile and will be disposed of at the end of the procedure.
3) Bleeding – Your blood will be tested before the procedure to check for any clotting abnormalities, which will be dealt with prior to the procedure.
4) Pneumothorax (partially collapsed lung) – A chest xray may be performed following the procedure and will allow us to check whether this has occurred or not.

These are all quite rare and we will do everything we can to minimise the chance of any of these happening to you.

Any further queries?
Our contact number is 01908 996934 and we are available from 8.30am until 5pm, Monday to Friday. Please do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to answer any queries that you may have.

Royal College of Radiologists 06/02
Handbook of interventional Radiology and Angiography 2nd edition Mosby, Myron Wojtowycz

We aim to make the information as up to date and accurate as possible, but please be warned that it is always subject to change. Please therefore always check specific advice on the procedure or any concerns you may have with your doctor.