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Long Lines



                               Saint Mary’s Hospital

                             NEONATAL MEDICAL UNIT

Tel: 0161 276 6206 / 6342

                            An information leaflet
 Neonatal Medical Unit           for parents
 Saint Mary's Hospital
  Hathersage Road
       M13 0JH                  Long Lines
    0161 276 6537/8

         TIG 35/04
        March 2004
                                                                                                   Long lines are monitored very carefully and if
Background                                       How is a long line inserted?                      any of these complications arise the line will
                                                                                                   be removed.
This leaflet has been produced in order to       A suitable vein is identified by the doctor who
help you to understand why your baby             inserts the long line.
requires a ‘long line’.                                                                            How will my baby be monitored while the
                                                 The doctor will wear a surgical gown and          long line is in place?
A ‘long line’ is a thin catheter inserted into   gloves to ensure that the line remains sterile.
one of the large veins in your baby’s arm or                                                       Your baby will continue to have heart rate and
leg.                                             The line is inserted into a vein in the arm or    respiratory (breathing) rate monitoring. The
                                                 the leg. (On rare occasions, a vein in the        line is also attached to a monitor that alarms if
                                                 scalp is used).                                   the line becomes blocked.
Why does my baby need a long line?
                                                 The tip of the line is placed in a suitable
There may be several reasons why your baby       position.                                         How do you know when to take the long
requires a long line:                                                                              line out?
                                                 Once the line is in place, an x-ray is taken to
•   Small premature babies have an               ensure that it is in the correct position.        When your baby no longer requires
    immature digestive system.                                                                     intravenous fluids, the long line will be
                                                 It may take more than one attempt to insert       removed.
•   It can take days before your baby can        the long line, as the veins of premature
    take all the milk feeds required.            babies are very small.
                                                                                                   Will I need to give consent?
•   Using a long line means that your baby       Sometimes we are not able to insert the long
    continues to receive the calories they       line. If this happens the surgeons will place a   Yes. You will be asked to sign a consent
    need for growth even though they may         line into one of the larger internal veins.       form before the line is inserted.
    not be feeding.

•   A long line is inserted so that medication   Are there any complications associated            Who do I ask for more information?
    can be given as well as fluids.              with long lines?
                                                                                                   Please ask to speak to one of the nurses or
Fluids can be given via a ‘cannula’ which is     Yes. Long lines may become blocked or they        doctors if you have any further questions.
the small drip inserted into a vein. However,    may leak. They may also become infected.
cannulas do not last very long as they           Sometimes there can be bleeding from the
frequently leak into the surrounding tissue      site where the line is inserted. (This can
and this is why a long line is preferred.        usually be stopped by applying gentle
                                                 pressure.) Very rarely they can cause fluid to
                                                 accumulate around the heart.

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