Help Section for External Central Catheters

This article has been archived.
Please use for reference only.

Penn Home Infusion Team
University of Pennsylvania Health System
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Problem Possible Causes What To Do
Fever of 100.5 or more and/or chills
  1. Infusion too fast
  2. Catheter infection
  3. Other causes such as the flu, common cold
  1. Call physician
Leaking fluid
  1. Loose connection
  2. Hole in tubing
  1. Check all connections and tighten.
  2. Replace tubing.
Weakness, nausea, or frequent urination
  1. Blood sugar is too high
  2. Solution being infused too fast
  1. Call physician
Sweating, nausea, headache, feeling of nervousness, blurred vision, shakiness, drowsiness
  1. Blood sugar too low
  2. Stopping TPN to rapidly
  1. Take some form of sugar (hard candy, honey, fruit, Juice)
  2. Call physician
Swelling of feet or ankles, shortness of breath while performing usual activity, weight gain 2 lbs or more per day
  1. Retaining extra fluid
  1. Call physician
Pump alarms
  1. Varies with alarm
  1. See alarm section for your pump
Sudden swelling in the shoulder or where catheter is located
  1. Fluid being infused into skin, not in catheter
  1. Stop infusion
  2. Flush and cap External Central Catheters
  3. Call physician
Pain, redness, or drainage around the catheter
  1. Infection at catheter site
  1. Call physician
Tubing becomes disconnected
  1. Tubing not taped or secured properly
  2. Clamp the extension tubing tightly.
  3. If there is blood in the tubing, cap and flush the external central catheter with 2.5 cc of sodium chloride followed by 2.5 cc of 100 units/cc Heparin.
  4. Start again.
  5. If there is air in the tubing, turn off the pump, clamp the tubing as close to your body as possible, lie on your left side.
  6. Call physician.
Any unusual feeling or other physical symptoms
  1. Various causes
  1. Call physician.
Unable to flush external central catheters
  1. Catheter is kinked
  2. Catheter has developed blockage
  3. Catheter may be up against wall of vein
  1. Check to make sure catheter is not bent or kinked anywhere
  2. Change body position and try to flush
  3. If unable to flush, call physician.
Hole in catheter or tear in catheter
  1. Repeated clamping on same spot of catheter
  2. Catheter was flushed with excessive pressure
  2. Clamp catheter between your body and hole (tear)
  4. Call physician