Glossary of Terms

We offer this glossary of common terms for parent’s to help resolve some of the confusing medical language.

Central Line

Central Venous Catheter

Central Venous Line


Central venous access catheter

In medicine, a central venous catheter (“central line”, “CVC”, “central venous line” or “central venous access catheter”) is a catheter placed into a large vein in the neck, chest or groin. The CVC is used to administer medications or fluids, including TPN or obtain blood.


Pic line

Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter

A peripherally inserted central catheter aka. PICC is a central venous catheter inserted into a vein in the arm rather than a vein in the neck or chest.

Tunneled Catheter

A tunneled catheter is a central venous catheter that is surgically inserted into a vein in the neck or chest and passed under the skin.  The end of the line is brought through the skin through which medicine can be given.

Hickman Catheter: Brand name for a tunneled catheter.

Broviac Catheter: Brand name for a tunneled catheter.





The term portacath or port in medicine are a form of a central venous access device. A port consists of a reservoir compartment that has a silicon bubble for needle insertion, with an attached plastic tube. The device is surgically implanted under the skin in the upper chest and appears as a bump under the skin.  The term totally implantable venous access system (TIVAS) is also used interchangeably with ports.

Brand names for ports include: Port-A-Cath, Microport, Bardport, PowerPort, Passport, Infuse-a-Port, Medi-Port, and Lifesite.

Implanted Port

This type of central venous catheter is left entirely under the skin. Medicines are injected through the skin into the catheter.  Some implanted ports contain a small reservoir that can be refilled in the same way. After being filled, the reservoir slowly releases the medicine into the bloodstream. An implanted port is less obvious than a tunneled catheter and requires little daily care.