arm with picc line is swollen

Hi all. I've had my picc line in for 14 months. Am on TPN for 12 hrs. a day. My nurse wants me to get an ultrasound of of the arm that my picc line is in because it is 3 in. bigger then my other arm and he suspects blood clots. My arm is not sore, nor do I have any pain but it is definately swollen. Could it be something else besides blood clots?
I have less then a foot of small bowel left and have an iliostomy & a mucas fistula.
All of this is due to radiatin damage from cervical cancer so, I am not a candidate for a sm bowel transplant as my tissue is so damaged from radiation.

Report post

15 replies. Join the discussion

Please get it checked out. I waited three months too. I know you don't want to go in the that but think of this you are playing Russian re lute with youor live, You do not want to end up in a nursing home. I finally gave in and I found out I had 2 blood clots the biggest ones ,my doctor every saw. The can put you on a heprin drip or Levonox shots and the warafin. Please check it out. You could have one travel to your brian and them you might lose muscle control in your arms your speech. If you need to talk here is my email address Skoconnor2003@. I am willing to talk about my experiences since I had 3. I lost my PICC lines and was put on a tube but it did not agree with me so I am doing this on my own. take care sandy

Report post

I will get the ultrasound. Just waiting on my doc to mail me the script.

Report post

Hi there,

I also had a picc line in my arm and then developed a blood clot in the arm. I have had clots in the legs and I can tell you that those are very painful, but the clot in my arm did not present any pain. I absolutely agree with you getting it checked out. As long as you are not experiencing any shortness of breath, pain, intense headaches or numbness or tingling you can wait for your appointment. However, if you experience anything odd with the way you feel please go straight to the ER. Once a blood clot is detected it can be treated simply, as long as it has not moved from your arm. I do not want to alarm you, but want to make sure you can make an informed decision.

The only other possibility would be if there is an infection in the line. I also had this when I had a powerpicc line in and because of the infection my arm was swollen. I was treated with anti-bodtics and it cleared it up.

Wishing you well,

Cait

Report post

I couldn't agree with the other responses more. I had a picc line in, well actually I had 2 over the period of 3 months with two visits to the icu for sepsis. True it could be a blood clot or even an infection. In my case with the first septic episode my arm was swollen for about 1.5 weeks. No pain, no discharge no nothing. Then one day I just felt really sick , and collapsed at home, woke up and had a fever of 104.7. So I went into my doctors urgent care and one look at me he called 911 and I was rushed to the hospital. Then I spent 13 days in the ICU and received 7 units of blood. All because I did not listen to my body when it said "hey dummy your arm is swollen, it could be an infection go check it out". So I recommend you get it looked at, can't hurt. Good luck. :]

Report post

I had a PICC line put in when I was in the hospital. Within a few days I had redness, swelling and tenderness. After 4 days the doc ordered an ultrasound, and they found a clot. I'm on Lovenox shots 2x/day now to prevent further clot formation. Different people display symptoms differently. I'm glad you're going in for an appt to get it checked.
Jeanne

Report post

Hi,
My PICC line irritated the vein and caused the vein to become narrowed/constricted. As a result the blood flow was limited and my arm swelled - no pain. (Another narrowing was discover upstream in the subclavian from a central line years before.) Eventually I experienced numbness and tingling in my hand during my TPN infusion.
I did not have a clot, but the narrowed vein restricted blood flow. My left arm can no longer be used for PICCs.
The interventional radiologist (IR) discovered the narrowed veins via a dye study. He injected dye into my hand, and watched it go all the way up my arm and into the heart.
Hope you find answers.
Bette

Report post

Yeah its important to have it looked at! I would have it pulled. Ive had over 15 PICC lines. It sounds like everyone here is right its either Sepsis or clots! Good luck and dont delay!

Report post

You could speed things up by having your doctor fax prescription to ultrasound location. Or go to emergency room.

CP

Report post

Re your comment about not being candidate for transplant -- that's a good thing, I think. Have you gone to an intestinal rehab place?

For husband, cancer led to radiation damage led to loads of scar tissue led to blockages led to surgeries led to short bowel syndrome. But after 5 years on TPN, he is much much better, no longer need TPN, working on cutting down the hydration. At last Oley Conference, he heard about taking 3 or 4 ground lomotil/immodium 30 minutes before eating -- what a life changer!

Best wishes,
CP

Report post

oh drat, i meant that NOT being a transplant candidate is a good thing --

sorry for ambiguity,
cp

Report post

got my ultrasound. Test showed NO clots and veins running clear. Hmmm...wonder if I could be retaining water?

Report post

Hi,

My ultrasound was okay, showed not clots, and showed the blood flowed. BUT the dye study showed that the vein was narrowed/constricted. The narrowing was caused by the tube irritating the vein. When dye went through the PICC it did not show the narrowing in the arm where the tubing entered the vein, because the dye was released up further. This is why it was important that the dye was started in my hand. And as the dye flowed around the PICC where it entered the vein, it showed the narrowing.

The interventional radiologist at the local hospital (I was inpatient at the time) did not look futher for the cause of my arm swelling, but the interventional radiologist that follows me and has experience with long term access, looked further to rule out causes other then a clot and assessed from my hand to my heart.

Keep pushing for answers. It is unusual for the arm to be swollen and larger then the other with a PICC placement. That is a sign something could be going on, and the cause should be determined. You are your best advocate!

Bette

Report post

Why don't your doctors insert a port instead? I hate PICC lines. I've had 12 of them, though I'm on my 22nd central line now. I'm on my second port and it's so much better than a PICC line. So were the hickmans I've had, though I ended up with SVC syndrome. They found clots in both arms from my former PICC lines and I did not know they were there. I never felt them either so you very well may have a clot without it being symptomatic. Please get it checked out!

Mimi

Report post

Hi all! Ended up in the hospital for the last week. Blood infection from the picc, plus a bacteriasl infection in my urine. Am home now and on iv antibiotics. I got a new picc only because of the time. I would have had to stay 5 more days for them to put in a hickman and while I was hospitalized my new grandaughter was born! I HAD to get out asap so I could see her! :-)

Report post

Hi there,

Although I am sorry to hear that you had a blood infection it sounds like you have a great new baby to focus and dote on. Congratulations on your new granddaughter :-)

Cait

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support the Oley Foundation

Help the Oley Foundation reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to the Oley Foundation

Discussion topics

Helpful links from the Oley Foundation

Community leaders