Central venous Access

Following a diagnosis of cancer, children are usually fitted with a form of vascular access. This means that your child will be able to have blood tests taken easily and have most of their medications through this (including chemotherapy) thus reducing the trauma of frequent attempts to get vascular access.


Central Venous Catheters (Hickman line or Wiggly)

These are silicone tubes that are inserted whilst your child is under anaesthetic. They are designed to give permanent venous access for your child, so are inserted into a large vein in the neck and then tunneled under the skin to come out near the nipple.

​When your child wakes, they will have two small incisions, one in the neck to access the vein, and the other near their nipple.

​Once in, the line means your child will be free of the trauma of repeated attempts to get in cannulas and blood tests. Most chemotherapy drugs can be given through them too, making treatment much less distressing for your child.

​Although this sounds daunting, your child will soon adapt to their "wiggly." Many children like their lines because they mean a stop to invasive blood tests and cannulas.​

Vascular Ports

​This is a device that is placed under your child's skin and the catheter is threaded into a large vein. The port gives easy and reliable access to your child's bloodstream and sits just below the skin. Your child will wake with two small incisions: one by the port site and the other in the neck where it was inserted into the vein.

​Lines and ports both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Dependent on your child's age, size and diagnosis, one may be more suitable than another - your child's team will guide you as to which may be best for your child.

Further information

My child has been diagnosed with a rhabdoid tumour - see our rhabdoid tumour information resources



Content reviewed July 2021