Central Line

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This article defines Central Lines (CLs) to make sure we use the same definition in


  • A CL is a #vascular access catheter that passes through or has a tip ending in one of the #great vessels.
  • It may be used for infusion, blood sampling, or hemodynamic monitoring.
  • It can be temporary, or long-term/permanent.

great vessel

  • aorta
  • pulmonary artery
  • superior vena cava
  • inferior vena cava
  • brachiocephalic veins
  • internal jugular veins
  • subclavian veins
  • external iliac veins
  • common iliac veins
  • femoral veins

vascular access catheter

  • subclavian vein catheter
  • internal jugular vein catheter
  • PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter)
  • Swan-Ganz (pulmonary artery) catheter -- note placement of this has its own code Swan-Ganz (Pulmonary Artery Flotation) Catheter placement
  • Broviac
  • Groshong
  • Quinton
  • Hickman
  • ASHE catheter
  • hemodialysis catheter (e.g. Vascath)
  • implanted ports (e.g. Port-a-cath)
  • central line introducer -- i.e. even if it does not have a central line in it
  • introducer for a temporary pacing wire
  • tunnelled line insertions in Interventional Radiology

Not counted as Central Lines:

  • arterial catheters inserted into an artery
  • IABP
  • A-V fistula
  • regular peripheral IVs
  • Midline PICC -- since these do not end in a central vein, AND they have a much lower infection rate (ref:DG Maki, DM Kluger and CJ Crnich. The risk of bloodstream infection in adults with different intravascular devices: a systematic review of 200 published prospective studies. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 81(9):1159-1171, 2006)
  • any intravascular device that does not have a lumen (e.g. pacemaker wires)


We also used to code QA Infection CLI.

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