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Acta Oncol. 2013 Jun;52(5):886-92. doi: 10.3109/0284186X.2013.773072. Epub 2013 Mar 11.

Advantages and disadvantages of peripherally inserted central venous catheters (PICC) compared to other central venous lines: a systematic review of the literature.

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Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



The use of central venous lines carries a significant risk for serious complications and high economic costs. Lately, the peripherally inserted central venous catheter (PICC) has gained in popularity due to presumed advantages over other central venous lines. The aim of this systematic literature review was to identify scientific evidence justifying the use of PICC.


The literature review was performed according to the principles of Cochrane Collaboration. The electronic literature search included common databases up to March 2011. Only those studies rated as high or moderate quality were used for grading of evidence and conclusions.


The search resulted in 827 abstracts, 48 articles were read in full text, and 11 met the inclusion criteria. None of the articles was classified as high quality and two had moderate quality. The results of these two studies indicate that PICC increases the risk for deep venous thrombosis (DVT), but decreases the risk for catheter occlusion. The quality of scientific evidence behind these conclusions, however, was limited. Due to the lack of studies with sufficiently high quality, questions such as early complications, patient satisfaction and costs could not be answered.


We conclude that although PICCs are frequently used in oncology, scientific evidence supporting any advantage or disadvantage of PICC when comparing PICC with traditional central venous lines is limited, apart from a tendency towards increased risk for DVT and a decreased risk for catheter occlusion with PICC.

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