Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer

Having a Hickman line fitted


The day before the line fitting I had to have bloods taken and MRSA swabs. On arrival at the hospital for the fitting my blood pressure and temp were taken and I changed into a hospital gown (always elegant!). A very friendly, competent nurse then came to discuss the procedure with me and got me to sign a consent form. I was then taken into the theatre, where I lay on a trolley under an x-ray machine. I had to lower the gown from my right shoulder and was drapped in very sticky blue plastic material and a cap was put on my head. Then the nurse cleaned the area with a very strong smelling antiseptic solution. Heart and pulse monitors were attached, and, once the procedure started I had to keep my head turned to the left throughout.

Having the local anaesthetic was the worst part, but at least that was over quickly. The doctor inserting the line was quick and efficient. He located the entry and exit points for the line with a combination of ultrasound and x-ray, and then inserted the line. I experienced a mild discomfort while he was pushing the line into place, but this was over very quickly - the whole thing took about 10 minutes. Two stitches were then put in place - one at the entry and one at the exit point and dressings then placed over these. I found the neck dressing quite uncomfortable as it felt as if my neck movements were restricted. The stitch at the entry point stays in for 7 days and the one at the exit point for 3 weeks.

I was then transferred to a bed and wheeled back to the ward where I was given a cup of tea and a biscuit and asked to wait for about 15 minutes before leaving. I was given spare dressings incase I needed them, 2 clamps in case the line ruptured and instructions on how to use them - I found this a little alarming! The nurse advised I strip wash until after my line care, the next day at the chemo unit, and gave me tips on avoiding touching the line too much because of the risk of infection.

I felt quite tired and bruised after the procedure and needed to rest when I got home. the wounds oozed slightly, but were otherwise OK. One problem I did have was a slight allergic reaction to the dressings, so when the nurse did the line care she applied a barrier solution to prevent this - seems to have worked. The administration of the chemo seemed to be a lot smoother through the line, and the big plus is that I won't have to have any more needles stuck into me for the rest of my treatment.