Central Venous Access/Occlusion

Vascular Access Centers

Vascular Medicine located in Memphis, TN

Patients suffering from heart disease face a conundrum: while they often need long-term catheters, those same catheters can cause blockages in their veins. At Vascular Access Centers of Memphis and East Memphis, our team specializes in inserting the long-term catheters in a process called central venous access. If you’d like to hear more about how central venous access can help you, call to schedule your consultation or book online.

Central Venous Access/Occlusion Q & A

What is central venous access?

Central venous access is a procedure to insert a catheter into a vein. Unlike a standard IV drip,  central venous catheters stay in your body for an extended period of time so you or your care provider can easily administer IV medications. This catheter provides available access for medications administered regularly.  The absence of this access would mean continual and consistent injections and needle sticks.

There are two main types of central venous catheters:

  • A peripherally inserted central catheter is placed into a vein in your arm.
  • A tunneled catheter is placed near the neck.

Who needs central venous catheters?

Central venous access devices serve a variety of purposes. These devices are most commonly recommended for:

  • Long-term delivery of certain medications such as antibiotics or chemotherapy
  • Nutritional support that can’t be obtained through other means
  • Regular blood work, such as blood draws or transfusions

What is central venous occlusion?

When a vein becomes blocked, this is called a venous obstruction or occlusion. Unfortunately, venous occlusion is a common risk associated with long-term central venous catheters, which means you need to take special care to follow your catheter maintenance plan and monitor any unusual symptoms.

The most striking and concerning symptom of venous occlusion includes massive swelling of the area featuring the blocked vein, such as the arm, neck, or face. This swelling often causes acute pain and discoloration in the affected area and might feel warm to the touch. Swelling is the most recognizable symptom of occlusion and a sure sign you should seek medical help. Other symptoms might include:

  • Itching
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ulcerations near the catheter entry
  • Localized numbness
  • Headaches

What is the treatment for central venous occlusion?

Central venous occlusion is either treated in one of two ways:

Balloon angioplasty

An angioplasty procedure involves sticking a thin tube with an attached balloon into the affected blood vessel and then inflating the balloon. The result is a widened artery.


A stent is a thin metal tube that can be placed into a blood vessel to keep it open.

If you think you’re experiencing a case of venous occlusion, let your doctor know as soon as possible. Stenting or angioplasty procedures are both options to reopen blocked veins and keep you healthy.

If you want to know more about whether central access catheters are for you, call Vascular Access Centers of Memphis and East Memphis to schedule your consultation or book your appointment online.

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