What Are Vascular Access Devices?

What Are Vascular Access Devices?

Vascular access devices (VADs) are medical devices that are placed under the skin to allow for repeated access to a patient’s veins. They are most commonly used in patients who require long-term intravenous (IV) therapy, such as those with cancer or chronic illnesses.

VADs include peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs), implanted ports, and hemodialysis catheters. PICCs are the most common type of VAD, and they are inserted through a vein in the arm and threaded into the larger veins near the heart. Implantable ports are also placed under the skin, but they have a reservoir that is attached to the veins, and they require a surgical procedure for placement. Hemodialysis catheters are inserted through a vein in the neck and threaded into the jugular vein. They are used for patients who require dialysis, a treatment for kidney failure. All VADs have exit sites where the tubing emerges from the skin, and these sites must be kept clean and free of infection. VADs can be uncomfortable and can cause complications, but they offer a convenient way to receive treatments that would otherwise be difficult to administer.

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