Common Tubes, Lines, Monitors, and Machines in Cardiac Care
There are tubes, lines, monitors, and machines that you may have during your stay in the hospital. Lines are used to give fluids, medicines, and measure pressures. Monitors are used to measure how your heart and lungs are doing. Machines may be used to help support your heart and lungs. Below is a list some of the tubes, lines, monitors, and machines that you may have.
Tubes and Lines
Endotracheal Tube (ET tube) is often called a breathing tube. The ET tube goes into your trachea (windpipe) through your mouth and connects to a ventilator. It does the work of breathing for you when you are having trouble breathing on your own. Since it is in your mouth and windpipe, you are not able to talk while the ET tube is in place. You can nod, squeeze your hand, or write on a notepad. Nurses are nearby to help you.
Nasal Cannula is a tube with prongs that goes into your nose to give you oxygen. Most patients need oxygen for some of the time they are in the hospital. The oxygen will be stopped and the tube removed when you no longer need it.
Foley Catheter is a tube that goes into your urethra. Urine drains from the bladder through the urethra. This tube allows urine to leave your body when you are unable to void on your own. It also measures the amount of urine you are making. You may feel the urge to void while this tube is in place.
Arterial Line (A-line) is a tube in an artery used to measure your blood pressure. It is also used to draw blood for the lab without having to stick you with a needle. This line is most often in your radial artery in your wrist. It can be in your femoral artery in your groin or your brachial artery in your arm.
Intravenous Catheter (IV line) is a tube in a vein that can be used to give fluids and medicines. IV lines can be in many places. Most patients will have 1-2 small IVs in their hand, wrist, or arm.
Central Line is an IV line in a large vein in your neck or groin. It is used to give certain medicines.
Swan-Ganz Catheter (Swan) is a special central line in a large vein in your neck or groin. It threads down to your heart. It allows your doctor to monitor your heart closely. Information from the Swan may be used to adjust your medicines.
Temporary Pacemaker is a small wire that is attached to the heart and exits through an IV in your neck. It is connected to a small gray box that hangs above your bed. A pacemaker can be used to adjust your heart rate. Often this is short-term. In some cases, a patient may need a permanent pacemaker put in. Temporary pacemakers are removed before you leave the hospital.
Blood Pressure Cuff is a device that goes around your arm, wrist, or leg to measure your blood pressure. It inflates and deflates to get a blood pressure reading. The first time it inflates it will get very tight. After that, it will not tighten as much.
Pulse Oximeter (Pulse Ox) is a device that clips to your finger or earlobe. It has a red light at the end of it. It measures the oxygen level in your body.
Telemetry uses an electrocardiogram, also called ECG or EKG. Patches will be attached to your chest. A monitor will be attached to these patches. This shows your heart rate and heart’s electrical activity. It allows your doctors and nurses to see what your heart is doing.
Balloon Pump is a machine used in the intensive care unit (ICU) that is connected to a special IV in your groin. The IV tube has a part that is shaped like a balloon. The balloon inflates and deflates with your heart beat to decrease the work of your heart. This machine is only used for awhile. It is not permanent. It will be removed before you leave the hospital.
CPAP/BiPAP is a machine that helps you breathe. It is used with a mask. The mask may be used to cover only your nose or both your nose and mouth. It gives you extra oxygen and helps keep your airways open. It is often used for people who have trouble breathing well when they are asleep (sleep apnea).
Ventilator is often called a breathing machine. It is used with a breathing tube or an ET tube (please see above). The machine with the tube does the work of breathing for you when you need more help than a CPAP/BiPAP machine can give. Your nurses and doctors can adjust the ventilator to meet your needs. The ventilator will be removed as soon as you are able to breathe well on your own.
Sequential Stockings (SCDs) are special stockings placed on your legs. These stockings are attached to a machine that inflates and deflates in a routine pattern. This helps your blood flow and decreases blood clots.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 09/16/2011
Copyright © 09/16/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7253
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