Frequently Asked Questions About Implanted Ports • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
If you are thinking about getting a port, you probably have questions about how it will affect you and your daily routine. While you'll find answers to some of those questions here, the best way to get the information you need is to speak directly to your doctor or nurse. Together, you can decide if a port is appropriate for you.Expand All
Your port is typically placed during a minor surgical procedure that usually does not require general anesthesia or hospitalization.6 Your port is placed just beneath your skin with the end of the catheter inserted into a large vein with the catheter tip placed near the heart. 6
Frequently the port is placed in the upper chest in an area just below the collarbone.6 Talk to your doctor or nurse about placing your port in a spot that's best for you. It's important that the physician inserting your port is aware of your daily activities and clothing preferences so that your port can be placed out of view.
Once your port is placed under your skin, it's ready to deliver medication into the bloodstream. A special needle is placed through the septum (flexible cover) of your port, which connects to a catheter. The catheter is placed into a large vein, with the catheter tip placed near the heart. Most patients feel a mild pricking sensation during needle insertion.6 An anesthetic cream can be used to numb your skin to reduce discomfort.
Your port can deliver medication in two ways. The first way, called bolus injection, delivers the medication all at once with the needle left in place only for a short period of time. The second way is a slow delivery of medication called a continuous infusion. For this type of medication, a dressing will usually be placed over the needle to hold it in the port for a longer period of time and a small tube will connect it to the I.V. bag.6
Your port also provides a method for collecting blood samples and, if it is indicated for this use, it may also deliver contrast media to perform CT scans. The needle is inserted in the same way through the cover of your port. Ports can minimize the number of peripheral I.V. needle sticks in your arms and hands that may cause damage to your veins.
Your port is designed to deliver medications and chemotherapy through a large vein directly into your heart. This allows the medication to be diluted more quickly than if your medication was given in the peripheral veins in your arms or hands. Also, by delivering chemotherapy directly into your heart, the chemotherapy does not break down or deteriorate the peripheral veins in your arms or hands. This may benefit a patient who needs blood work or I.V.s at a later time.
Yes. Your port can also be used to take your blood sample.6 This means that you no longer have to have a peripheral I.V. placed in your arm or hand to get your blood drawn. If you need to have blood drawn, be sure to tell your nurse or lab technician that you have a port.
For the first few days after receiving your port, it is recommended to avoid strenuous activities. Once your incision heals, you should be able to return to your normal daily activities, such as showering, swimming, or jogging as long as the needle is not in place in your port. Ask your doctor or nurse about specific activities and the appropriate time to resume them.6
A bandage may be needed until your incision heals. After the incision has healed, the bandage can be removed if the port is not being used. If the port is in use providing continuous infusion of fluids, a bandage may be applied to stabilize and protect the needle while it is in place.6
After your port is inserted, you will have a small incision and some tenderness in the area of the incision, which normally subsides in the first 24 to 48 hours.6 If you notice any unusual changes in the skin area over the port such as increased swelling, redness, or soreness, do not hesitate to let your doctor or nurse know. If you experience pain, fever, chills, shortness of breath or dizziness, contact your doctor right away.5 These symptoms may be signs of infection.
Ports are often covered by Medicare and Medicaid in the United States while private health insurance policies vary. Be sure to check with your insurance company prior to getting a port.6
The answer will depend on where your port is placed, so ask your doctor or nurse. If you tend to like to wear certain types of clothes, you may want to consider bringing them with you when you talk to the doctor.6
Your port may stay in place for as long as it functions correctly, or as long as your doctor determines that you need it.
Yes. When you no longer need your port, it can be removed with a minor surgical procedure similar to the one used to implant it.6
There are many different types of ports. Your doctor or nurse will choose one that best meets your needs based on the types of treatments and tests you will undergo.
- Single lumen ports have one entrance for medications.
- Double lumen ports have two entrances for medication, and are used if you need to have more than one type of infusion at the same time.
- Power injectable ports offer the ability to provide access for power–injected Contrast–Enhanced Computer Tomography (CECT) or CT scans. CT scans produce quick, accurate images of your body to help the medical team better manage your care.5
Yes you can. Implanted ports contain non-ferromagnetic materials so patients can receive an MRI scan safely. For specific information on the conditions tested regarding port usage in a MRI procedure, please refer to the specific port instructions for use.8
Yes, but only if the port is indicated or meant to be used for power injection of contrast media during CT scans.8 Consult with your doctor or nurse to determine if a power injectable port is right for you.
You may receive a wallet-sized Medical Alert Identification Card that contains important information about the port. With this information, other qualified healthcare providers will be able to assist you.6
Security systems most likely will not detect the small amount of metal in the port. If this does occur, simply show your Medical Alert Identification Card.6
A port is not for everyone. It is important that you talk with your doctor or nurse about the risks associated with ports and port use. Potential complications include:
- Blood clot formation
- Redness and inflammation at the port insertion site
- Skin erosion
- Bleeding at the insertion site
- Scarring at the insertion site
- Port catheter breakage
- Irregular heart beat
- Vein erosion
- Allergic reaction to the materials of the port
- Port rotation or flipping while implanted
- Leakage of medicine, IV fluid, or chemotherapy from the port
- Improper port access leading to medicine, IV fluid, or chemotherapy being injected into surrounding tissue of the port
- Port clotting
Use of an implanted port carries risks associated with a minor surgical procedure and vascular access. Potential complications include:
- Internal Bleeding
- Nerve damage
- Collapsed lung
- Fluid build up around the lungs
- Blood clot formation
- Accidental cutting or puncturing of blood vessels