A port is a device that is usually placed under the skin in the right side of the chest or under the arm. (picture of Single and Dual Ports). A port can have one or two access points.
The port goes either under the skin of your chest or upper arm.
It is attached to a thin, flexible tube (also called catheter) that is threaded into a large vein above the right side of the heart ((Picture of septum)
A surgeon or a radiologist implants a port, usually with local anesthesia or conscious sedation in the operating room.
How does the port works?
Your port will look like a small, raised area under your skin. The center of the disk which is raised somewhat is called the septum (Picture of port-a-cath and highlighted text below by the side)
Fluids are put into or taken out of the port using a special needle that goes into the septum.
The catheter connects to the septum to take the medicine or inject fluids right into the blood.
Blood for lab tests can also be taken out through the catheter.
When the needle is removed from the septum, no fluids or blood can leak out. (remove picture)
What is the purpose of implanting a port?
A port is used
to give intravenous fluids, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, and other drugs as well as can be used for taking blood samples.
for treatments, like continuous infusion therapy, that last longer than 1 day.
to reduce the number of times a healthcare provider needs to insert a needle in your veins, and
to reduce the risk of tissue and muscle damage with repeated needle sticks.
The port can be used on the same day it is put in and may stay in place for weeks or months
During first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, the incision area will be tender and a little red. Most people don’t need pain medications and the discomfort usually goes away within 48 hours. If your pain persists, please contact your Oncologist.
You should also call your surgical nurse if you develop
Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the port.
A fever of 100.5 F or above
Bleeding from the port
Swelling or a growing bruise.
Keeping it secure and dry:
The incision wound will be covered by bandage till the wound heals for about 5-7 days.
Please keep the bandage and wound areas dry. It may be a good idea to take a sponge bath or
Take shower only after making sure the port site is covered and secured with a plastic wrap so water doesn’t not reach it.
If you notice the bandage is pulling away, reinforce it with medical tape until you see your oncology nurse.
The nurse will check on your dressing within the next days after surgery.
Check your bandage daily for bleeding.
If there’s bleeding, press firmly with a gauze for 15 minutes.
If bleeding didn’t stop call your oncology nurse immediately. If it’s heavy bleeding visit emergency.
Wearing the seatbelt will put pressure on your wound, try to avoid this by placing small pillow or folded towel between the strap and the wound.
No exhausting activities until your wound heals.
Also please do not to lift objects heavier than 10 pounds (4.5 kg) during this time.
After your wound heals, you can return to your normal daily activities.
You can swim with your implanted port as long as there is no needle in place.
Avoid playing any contact sports, such as football or rugby.
How a port is used in the hospital:
Before you start receiving chemotherapy, Nurses will handle the port with sterile procedures as hand washing, sterile gloves and alcohol scrubbing. You can always ask if you noticed any different handling of your port.
A dressing will also be placed over the port when it’s in use.
During chemotherapy infusion, nurses will check your port for any signs of inflammation.
If blood tests were needed, hands or arms’ veins will usually be used to get blood. This helps to avoid multiple accessing of the port, which increases risk of infection.
The port will be flushed by a nurse after each use, and every 4 weeks when it’s not being used, to prevent becoming blocked with blood clots. Saline and heparin (a blood thinning medicine to prevent blood clots) are used.
What are the risks and side effects of the port?
Potential side effects include
Caring for the port helps to prevent these side effects.
Caring for the port at home:
Always wash your hands with soap and water before and after caring for the port.
Remind everyone who cares for your port to wash their hands.
Wear clean medical gloves when you care for your port.
Avoid touching the port if not needed.
Clean the skin area surrounding the port every day.
Check daily for redness, swelling, and oozing at the site of the port.
Keep the port covered with bandage whenever the needle is in place.
You will be able to feel the port under your skin, but it will not be noticeable by people.
The skin covering the port will not need any special care.
No bandage will be needed if the port is not in use.
Your oncology nurse will instruct you if it’s needed and they will demonstrate you or a family member how to do it.
Never try to use your port without proper training from your caregiver.
Do not hesitate to call us for training
Have a well-trained nurse to help you at home if possible