Minimally Invasive Tumor Therapy (MITT)

Department of Radiology, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

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Central Venous Catheters


A central venous catheter (CVC), or central line, is a soft, hollow tube (typically made of polyurethane, less commonly of silicone) that is inserted through the skin into one of the large blood vessels that take blood to the heart (generally a vein in the upper arm, shoulder area, or neck). From the site of insertion, the catheter tip is advanced into the large vein that enters the heart (superior vena cava). This vein is part of the central venous system, hence the name of this type of catheter. A central venous catheter provides easy access to the body’s central vascular system and is used for repeated delivery of medications or frequent blood sampling without having to stick the patient with a needle each time. Due to the large blood volume in the superior vena cava, a central line allows direct delivery of all medications, like chemotherapy, or nutrient solutions. This is not always possible through a venous line in a smaller, peripheral vein in the hand or lower arm (such as a Flexüle® or Braunüle®). Another advantage of central lines is that, with proper care, they can stay in the body for several months or years.


Different types of central venous catheters are used, depending on how long they are intended to be left in the body: short-term (up to 2 weeks), mid-term (2 weeks to 3 months), and long-term (over 3 months). Central lines intended for use up to 2 weeks are known as acute central venous catheters. Catheters intended for mid- and long-term use are known as chronic central venous catheters. An overview is given in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Overview of central venous lines (according to Gebauer et al. (4))




Minimally Invasive Tumor Therapy (MITT)

Department of Radiology


CVK – Charité, Campus Virchow-Klinikum

Augustenburger Platz 1

13353 Berlin, Germany

Phone: +49 (0)30 – 450 557 309

Fax: +49 (0)30 – 450 557 947


CBF – Charité, Campus Benjamin Franklin

Hindenburgdamm 30

12203 Berlin, Germany

Phone: +49 (0)30 – 8445 2852

Fax: +49 (0)30 – 8445 2891


CCM – Charité, Campus Mitte

Charitéplatz 1

10117 Berlin, Germany

Phone: +49 (0)30 – 450 527 098

Fax: +49 (0)30 – 450 7527 908 oder