Femoral vein catheter placement

What is a femoral vein catheter?

A femoral vein catheter is a central line (central venous catheter) placed in the femoral vein in the pelvis (vena femoralis). A femoral vein catheter can be placed to allow for long-term and/or prolonged access to the blood vessels because you often need medication through IV, or because the medication needs to be administered over a longer period of time. Without a femoral vein catheter, this would require many IVs which could harden the veins, making them harder to puncture. This can make it harder and harder to find a vein, and it may make the IV placement or injections more painful over time.

What to expect?

A femoral vein catheter is placed by an interventional radiologist using a local anesthetic. This should take about 30 minutes to an hour. The interventional radiologist will place the catheter using an ultrasound. Then its position will be verified using an x-ray. The visible part of the line will then be attached to the skin.

Once the femoral vein catheter has been placed, you will be brought back to your ward. Your nurse will provide you with information on how to look after the femoral vein catheter.

What are the potential risks and complications?

Once the anesthesia has worn off, you may experience some discomfort for a day or two.

Catheter placement is a routine procedure. Complications arise in rare cases, directly after the procedure or when placed for a longer period of time. 

After treatment, you may experience:

  • blood loss and/or pain in the area of the catheter;
  • hematoma;
  • infection.

The following long-term femoral vein catheters complications may occur:

  • infection in the area surrounding the catheter;
  • bloodstream infection if bacteria enter the bloodstream through the catheter;
  • blood clots in the femoral vein in which the catheter was inserted.