Peripheral Nerve Catheter and Pump for Pain Control (PNC) Inpatient

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Peripheral nerve catheter.

The doctor has placed a flexible tube (catheter) under your child’s skin to help control pain. The tube is called a peripheral (pa RIF e rel) nerve catheter (Picture 1). One end of the tube is under the skin around the nerves and the other end is attached to a pump. The catheter is placed while your child is either asleep or under sedation in the operating room.

The pump is filled with numbing medicine. The medicine goes through the tube and numbs the nerves that send pain signals from the area of surgery to the brain. This blocks the feeling of pain.

The medicine from the pump may be enough to manage the pain. Or, your child can also take the pain medicine his doctor ordered for him if needed.

Common Side Effects

The medicine may make the arm or leg weak, heavy or tingly and numb. The feeling will go away after the numbing medicine wears off. Your child may not be able to move the area for one or two days after surgery.

Be sure to protect the arm or leg from injury during this time. Have your child test using his arm or leg before using it or putting weight on it.

When the numbness wears off, there may be more pain.

Skin Care

  • When the tube is placed in the skin, a clear bandage is placed on it to keep it clean. The bandage is to stay in place as long as the tube is in place.

  • The bandage helps keep the tube in place. If the tube comes out, it cannot be put back in.

  • Keep the bandage clean and dry. While the tube is in, your child should take a sponge bath only. Gently pat the clear dressing dry if it gets wet.

  • Your child may lie on the arm or leg in which the catheter is placed. However, avoid any pulling on the catheter so that is does not come out.

The Pump

  • The catheter is connected by tubing to a pump. The pump gives your child a continuous infusion (supply) of pain medicine.

  • The medicine is given at a constant rate. The rate is decided by the doctor. Do not change the pump in any way that could affect the delivery of medicine.

  • The doctor will set the amount of medicine and time allowed between extra doses. Your child cannot overdose himself.

  • Do not change the pump in any way

  • Your child will be given a small pouch to wear to hold the pump.

  • When the pump is empty, the bag may be changed by the nurse to provide medicine for a longer amount of time.

  • The pump will deliver medicine for up to 7 days.

Care of the Pump

  • Keep the pump dry.

  • Be sure the white clamp on the tube near the pump is open.

  • The bag will need to be taken everywhere with the patient.

Removal of the Tube

  1. The Pain Team nurse or doctor will remove your child’s catheter.

    1. They will first remove the clear bandage.

    2. They will then hold onto the tube close to the skin and gently pull.

  2. A Band-Aid® or other covering will be placed over the site where the tube was removed.

  3. You will remove the Band-Aid® the next day and look at the area.

When to Call the Doctor

It is common to have a small amount of fluid leak from the tube site. Call the doctor if:

  • The tube comes out of the skin

  • The fluid leaking from the site is cloudy or has color

  • The bandage is so wet it starts to come off

  • There is redness, pain, or warmth at the site where the tube goes into the skin

  • Your child has

    • Numbness around the lips

    • Ringing in the ears

    • Metal taste in the mouth

    • Blurred vision or dizziness

    • Fever higher than 102 degrees F by mouth

If you have questions about the tube or pump, please call 614-690-1715. After you hear the tone, enter your phone number by pressing the number keys. The pain nurse or doctor will call you back at that number.

Peripheral Nerve Catheter and Pump for Pain Control (PNC) Inpatient (PDF)

HH-II-228 10/15 Copyright 2015, Nationwide Children’s Hospital