Definition of Catheter, central

Reviewed on 6/3/2021

Catheter, central: A catheter (a tube) that is passed through a vein to end up in the thoracic (chest) portion of the vena cava (the large vein returning blood to the heart) or in the right atrium of the heart.

Central catheters have a diversity of uses. They allow concentrated solutions to be infused with less risk of complications. They permit monitoring of the central venous pressure, the pulmonary artery pressure, and the pulmonary capillary wedge pressures. They can be used for the estimation of cardiac output and vascular resistance. The near end of the catheter may also be connected to a chamber for injections given over periods of months.

A central catheter is also called a central venous catheter, a central venous line, or just a central line.


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