What is an implantable port?
Sometimes referred to as a Mediport®, Port-A-Cath® or Infus-A-Port®, an implantable port is a device that is placed completely under the skin and provides direct entry to your blood system. It is used to reduce the need for insertion of an intravenous (IV) line each time treatment is required. The device has two connecting parts: a soft plastic tube called a catheter, and a small round disc called a port.
What can the port be used for?
• Delivering medicines, including chemotherapy
• Drawing or giving blood or blood products
• Receiving intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition
Insertion of the port:
The port is usually inserted as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. Some surgeons may choose to do it in the operating room. Two small incisions are made. One end of the catheter is placed into the vein and the other end is threaded beneath the skin to create a “port pocket”. Fluid is injected into the port to insure it is working properly. The port is placed into the pocket and sewn into place. Both incisions are then closed.
It takes approximately one hour to implant the port. Thin paper strips with gauze and a clear dressing will be placed over the incision sites. You will be able to feel a small bump about an inch in size under the skin where the port is located. This area may be slightly swollen and tender for the first few days. The stitches will usually dissolve after two weeks.
How does the port work?
Since all parts of the port system are located under the skin, a special needle, called a Huber needle, is needed to “access” your port. The needle is inserted through the skin and the rubber-like top of the port (septum) and connects with the catheter. After your treatment is complete, the needle can be removed.
Postoperative instructions for your port:
• The area surrounding the port may become sore and/or tender as the local anesthesia wears off. An ice pack may be used for comfort and to lower the chance of swelling. It is helpful to move your arm as usual.
• You may take medication prescribed by your doctor for discomfort. Avoid products that contain aspirin.
• You may shower 24 hours after your procedure. Do not take a bath, use a hot tub, or go swimming until your incisions are well healed. This takes approximately 2-3 weeks.
• Leave the clear plastic dressing on for one week. The thin paper strips on the incision line may stay on an extra week. If the dressing becomes soiled or very wet, you may take the clear plastic dressing off and replace it with sterile gauze. Change this once a day for a week and do not shower.
• You should avoid strenuous activity, heavy lifting and contact sports for at least 3 weeks.
• Reinforce the dressing with gauze and tape as needed. If bleeding should start, apply constant pressure to the area for 20 minutes. If this does not help, call your doctor.
• If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call.
Call us if you have:
• Bleeding that does not stop
• Shortness of breath or increasing chest pain
• Redness, swelling or pus at the incision sites
• Fever over 100.5 F
How do I take care of my port?
1. Since no part of the port is outside of your body, you can carry on with your normal activities, including showering and swimming, after the site has healed. It is not usually necessary to place a bandage or dressing over the site.
2. To keep the catheter free of any blockage, it must be flushed monthly. This can be done at the same time as your regular check-ups or doctor visits.
3. If an infusion is needed over a number of days, a needle will be kept in place during this time. Avoid excessive movement while the needle is in place in order to prevent it from coming out of the port. During any hospitalization, the needle and the dressing will be changed every week. If you experience any swelling, stinging or pain in the area of the port during an infusion, call your nurse right away.
4. Avoid irritation of the skin over the port by making sure items such as bra straps, seatbelts, or other objects do not put pressure on the port by resting or rubbing on it.
The port can stay in place as long as medically necessary. Once the port is no longer needed, it can be removed. This procedure can be done at our clinic at the LifeHope Medical Offices in our procedure room. The removal of your port will be done as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. It will take about 30 minutes and will be done through the same incision where it was placed. As before, you will have a clear dressing, gauze and small paper strips over the incision. The sutures will dissolve. You will follow the same post-operative care as after the initial placement.
During the time that you have your port, you can always call us to answer any questions.