Difference Between Midline and PICC Line

Sometimes our body is suffering from such problems that can require inserting tubes or thinner pipes in the body. These are called a catheter. They can be used for performing surgeries or to treat some diseases. The most important and common use of them is providing nutrition to the body when a person cannot consume it orally or eating. Another important use of them is they help to pass the urine or liquid waste when the body cannot pass or control it like a normal person. There are types of catheters available in the market, for example, Midline and PICC lines.

Midline vs PICC Line

The main difference between Midline and PICC is that both of them are placed in a different manner and at different times. Midline is placed in the upper portion and near the elbow of the arm, whereas PICC is placed on the vein of the arms that connect it directly to the heart. For treatment of more than 2-3 weeks, PICC is used, while for less than it, Midline is used. A person with a serious problem is recommended to use PICC, and a patient that is comparatively less serious is advised to use Midline.

Midline vs PICC Line

A midline catheter is used for several functions, transporting nutrients being the most common. It is about 8 to 20 cm only, which is relatively shorter as compared to other catheters. Insertion can only be done in hospitals by doctors, and proper care as suggested by them should be taken. It should be removed by 2 weeks of insertion at maximum.

PICC or peripherally inserted central catheter in veins that directly lead to the heart. It can be used for several purposes, and if a person needs medical help of a longer duration is said to be an ideal choice. It is a long catheter, stays for a good time. It mostly does not cause much pain, but in case of some side effects, a doctor should be consulted.

Comparison Table Between Midline and PICC Line

Parameters of ComparisonMidline  PICC Line
Placed inUpper armVein in arm
UseFor passing fluids that do not irritate veinsProviding access to veins near the heart
Best forShort term treatmentLong term treatment
Stays for2 weeks4-6 weeks

What is Midline?

Insertion of this should be done by an expert as lack of knowledge can cause problems. It can be inserted in any hospital which has all the required equipment and expert staff. Following are important types of equipment required for the process:

  • 8 or 12cm Arrow “red” line
  • Suture-less securement device, for example, Grip lock
  • Sterile insertion pack
  • Ultrasound machine

Position and attach monitoring

  • The chosen arm should be placed properly.
  • Ultrasound sound is made to have a good view of it.
  • In case of sedation, monitoring should be attached.

It can remain for a short period. Therefore if you admitting to the hospital for a week or two only, then it should be inserted. While inserting process, it is normal to suffer from little irritation and pain. It is shorter in length and is mostly used for transporting the food and nutritional content to the body directly.

If proper care is not taken, it can lead to a severe problem which includes infections. Therefore proper medical help should be taken.

What is PICC Line?

A doctor or expert inserts the PICC line into the arms, veins until it reaches the superior vena cava. It allows injecting fluids and blood draw for a long period and can be more beneficial due to the following reasons:

  • Fewer Needles: it is used for the long term and stays for a good time. Therefore there should be fewer needles required for injecting anything in the body or in general drawing the blood. It is also recommended in case of veins are not easily visible.
  • Long-short term treatment: it can be used in case of chemotherapy and to administer blood products, immunoglobulins, Antibiotics, nutrients, etc.

Along with all the above advantages or benefits, there can be some side effects too, such as:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Blood clots
  • Reaction to dyes
  • Puncture of other veins or arteries

In case if the person feels some change in PICC or if they feel it has moved out of its inserted place, he should immediately seek the help of the expert who has inserted the PICC as this can lead to some serious problems including bleeding, leaking, pain in the chest, etc.

Main Differences Between Midline and PICC Line

  1. Both of the catheters are placed in the arms, but the difference in how they are placed and at what position they are placed. Midlines are placed in the upper arm where the tip is located below the axilla exactly, whereas a peripherally inserted central catheter is placed through the vein that goes directly to the heart on your arm.
  2. When it comes to the length, both of them have different lengths. The peripherally inserted central catheter is comparatively longer as it goes directly to the heart, it can be 25 to 60 cm long, while a Midline is shorter when compared, and it can be 8 to 20 cm only.
  3. Although they can be used for the same purpose, the peripherally inserted central catheter is mainly used for providing access to the veins (CENTRAL) near the heart to check the fluid is passing perfectly and providing necessary nutrition, while Midline is mostly used for providing the food in fluid form to the body in case a person cannot consume it orally.
  4. Both of them are used for different periods if the treatment is required for a shorter duration. For example, for a week or 10 days, the better option is midline, but if the treatment is required for a month or for a longer duration peripherally inserted central catheter is used as being a better option.
  5. Lastly, they also differ in the time for they can stay, Midline being used for a shorter period can only be stayed for a maximum of 2 weeks after that it should be removed, and peripherally inserted central catheter can only be kept for a maximum of 6 weeks and later on should be removed properly.


Therefore, now you must be well aware of both of them. It is important to know about them as then only you can use it, as in some cases some people might be allergic towards peripherally inserted central catheter and therefore, the midline is an option for them. Sometimes they can be extremely painful and irritating. Therefore not many people get agreed to use them, but sometimes there is no other option. It is important to have a regular check-up if you are using any of these or in general catheters.


  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/cc4093920ae04e13e5390ba5dbea077f/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=30130
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022347602402697
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0736467916301597
  4. https://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2005/04000/When_to_use_a_midline_catheter.49.aspx
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