A central line is special form of drip that is normally placed into one of the veins in your neck or just below your collar bone. It enables the anaesthetist to give you drugs that can't be given through a normal drip. It also acts as another form of monitoring and can help the anaesthetist in deciding how much fluid you need. It is also useful if the veins in your arms are difficult to use.
It is normally put in when you are asleep, but in higher risk cases may be put in with you awake with some local anaesthetic.
The risks of having a central line although important are unusual, they include:
- Damage to structures around the vein including arteries causing a bruise in the neck area
- Damage to the tip of the lung
- An abmormal heart rhythm
- Infection around the site of insertion.
- Air being sucked into the vein.
- You will need to have a Chest X ray after the central line has been inserted to check the position. The central line will often remain in for a number of days after the operation.