Vascular Access Service

What is the Vascular Access Service?

The Vascular Access Service team works with children and teens who need medicine put directly into their vein. Our goal is to minimize discomfort while making sure you and your child feel empowered and knowledgeable about intravenous (IV) therapy during your child's hospital stay or at home.

Vascular Access Service helps put medicine and fluids into your child’s IV and draws blood samples from your child’s IV, including PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line and central lines. We can also help if the line needs to be fixed.

If your child needs to go home with a central line, we will teach you how to take care of it in partnership with your home care company.

Why does my child need an IV, central line or access port?

  • Some medicines can't be taken by mouth or by injection and need to be put directly into the vein
  • Your child may not be able to take the medicine by mouth or injection
  • To draw blood

Who does the Vascular Access Service treat?

Some of the clinics the Vascular Access Service team commonly partners with are:

What services do we offer?

Peripheral intravenous (PIV)

A PIV is placed at the bedside by a nurse. The nurse can use numbing cream or other strategies to reduce the pain of the needle poke for your child.

This type of IV is usually put on either a hand or arm, and it can also be put on a foot or leg if your child doesn't walk. After the IV is placed in the vein, a small flexible tube (like spaghetti) stays in the vein. This should not be painful for the child.

This type of IV usually stays in for a couple of days. These are used when your child is in the hospital but occasionally can be used at home (PDF).

Central lines

A central line is a small tube that delivers medicine and fluids to your child into a large vein near their heart. Your child will usually go to the operating room or to interventional radiology where a trained provider will put in the line. It can sometimes be placed at the bedside. For details on the steps that happen when your child needs a central line, see the Central Line Road Map (PDF).

Keeping the line clean and cared for is very important to prevent infection. Your care team ensures this line doesn’t get infected. If your child leaves the hospital with a central line, we will teach you how to take care of it before your child goes home.

Caring for your child’s central line

Most children with a central line leave the hospital with it at some point during their treatment. While caring for their central line may seem intimidating at first, we have confidence that practice with your child's care team and use of the resources below will help you feel ready to do this with your child.

Changing the cap

How to flush the line

Changing the dressing

Treat infiltration or extravasation

An infiltration or extravasation happens if medicines given through PIV leak into the surrounding tissues and cause an injury.

To treat this, a nurse will need to look at it soon. If needed, we will inject medicine around the area to help it heal and watch it over time. Often a warm compress and elevation above the heart level are all that are needed to heal the area. Infiltrations or extravasations usually get better within a couple of days.

Learn more about infiltration or extravasation (PDF) (Spanish).

Central line removal  

When your child no longer needs IV medicines or blood draws, we can take the PICC and temporary line out at the bedside. Removing the line doesn’t hurt.

If your child has another type of line, like an implanted port or central line, we will remove it in the operating room or interventional radiology when it is no longer needed. Learn more about Care After PICC Line Removal (PDF) (Spanish).

Treating problems with IV lines

If something happens to your child’s line, whether it’s not working properly, gets clogged, breaks or there’s another issue, the Vascular Access Service team will help. If there is a problem with your child’s line, please call your home care company and let your care team know.


  • Joseph Reis, MD

    Joseph Reis, MD

    Division Chief, Interventional Radiology

  • Stephanie   Easley, BSN, RN

    Stephanie Easley, BSN, RN

  • Julia   Martinez, BSN, RN, CCRN-K

    Julia Martinez, BSN, RN, CCRN-K

  • Megan  Stimpson, DNP, ARNP-CS, PCNS-BC, VA-BC

    Megan Stimpson, DNP, ARNP-CS, PCNS-BC, VA-BC

Resources for Patients and Families

Central lines

Types of central lines

Central line care

Paying for Care

Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s, including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.