Midline vs PICC Line: Difference and Comparison

Sometimes our body is suffering from such problems that can require inserting tubes or thinner pipes in the body. These are called a catheter.

Key Takeaways

  1. Midline is a catheter inserted through a vein in the arm and ends at the mid-chest, while the PICC line is a catheter inserted through a vein in the arm and ends at the superior vena cava.
  2. Midline is shorter and less invasive than the PICC line.
  3. Midline is suitable for short-term intravenous therapies, while the PICC line is ideal for long-term intravenous therapies.

Midline vs PICC Line

A midline is a type of catheter that is inserted into a vein in the upper arm and extends to the mid-point between the shoulder and elbow. It is a relatively short catheter, ranging from 8 to 20 cm in length. A peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC line) is a long, thin, flexible tube that is inserted into a vein in the arm and passed through to the larger veins near the heart.

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.

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.

Comparison Table

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 a lack of knowledge can cause problems. The following are important types of equipment required for the process:

  • 8 or 12cm Arrow “red” line
  • Suture-less securement device, for example, a Grip lock
  • Sterile insertion pack
  • Ultrasound machine
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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. While the insertion process, it is normal to suffer from little irritation and pain.

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 and 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 into the body or, in general, drawing blood.
  • 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, 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.

picc line

Main Differences Between Midline and PICC Line

  1. Both of them are used for different periods if the treatment is required for a shorter duration.
  2. Lastly, they also differ in the time 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.
Difference Between Midline and PICC Line
  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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Last Updated : 14 August, 2023

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27 thoughts on “Midline vs PICC Line: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article effectively underscores the importance of timely expert medical intervention for both midline and PICC line catheters to avoid complications.

    • Indeed, emphasizing the critical need for proper care and vigilance after insertion is crucial for patient safety.

  2. The article effectively communicates the need for timely reevaluation and intervention if any issues arise with the catheter, ensuring patient safety.

  3. The delineation of side effects associated with PICC lines is particularly informative as it provides a comprehensive view of potential complications.

    • Absolutely, understanding the risks associated with PICC lines is vital for both patients and clinicians for informed decision-making.

  4. The information on the equipment required for midline insertion is quite detailed and contributes to a better understanding of the process.

  5. The main differences highlighted between midline and PICC line catheters serve as a significant educational resource for both healthcare professionals and the general public.

  6. The distinction between midline and PICC line catheters in terms of treatment duration and appropriate uses is clearly articulated.


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