A permcath is a soft plastic tube, about the thickness of a pencil, that allows your blood to be removed and returned during haemodialysis. It is used when, for some reason, a fistula is not possible. It is permanent and will last, hopefully, for as long as you need it.
The permcath is inserted into a large vein in the base of your neck. You may need to spend at least two days in hospital when you have the procedure. The permcath can be inserted under local or general anaesthetic. It takes about 45 minutes for the operation to be completed.
Before the permcath is inserted, you will be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of an infection occurring as a result of the procedure.
Many people who have a permcath inserted already have temporary access such as a sub-clavian line. It is normal for this line to be removed at the time that the permcath is inserted. Unlike the temporary access lines, a permcath is made of a softer, more comfortable material and it is carefully tunneled under the skin by the surgeon into place in order to prevent infection and to sit more comfortably.
You will find after the operation that about six inches of the permcath protrudes from the skin at the base of your neck. There will be a dressing over the site where it actually enters the skin.
The permcath is held in place by a few stitches. These are removed after about 2 weeks when the permcath is secure.
Immediately after the operation, the nursing staff will check your blood pressure and inspect the dressing regularly.
there is often some oozing of blood through the dressing. Do not be alarmed by this, so long as it is not excessive, it is not a problem.
If you require pain killing tablets they will be given to you.
Points to remember after the operation and generally
1. Keep the dressing clean and dry
2. When bathing or taking a bath, do not let the dressing get wet. Some people hold the shower nozzle in their hand in order to direct it away from the permcath site
3. It may be easier to get someone to help you wash your hair over a sink or treat yourself to a trip to the hairdressers
4. The dressing will be changed each time you have dialysis
5. Infection can be a complication. If the area where the permcath enters your skin becomes tender, red or there is a visible discharge, please contact the dialysis unit immediately
The end of the catheter is forked. When you need dialysis, the lines to remove and return your blood are attached to the end of the permcath.
After each dialysis session, the permcath is flushed with a solution to prevent clotting or blocking of the line. Two small secure caps are placed on the end of the catheter until the next dialysis session.