There are 2 parts to the device:
- Port or portal – small reservoir, about as big as a thimble, with a silicone septum that can be pierced with a needle.
- Cath’ or catheter portion: A thin, flexible tube that is threaded into a large vein above the right side of the heart called the superior vena cava.
The entire device, including the catheter, is under the skin. The port feels like a little bump under the skin, smaller than a quarter.
WHO NEEDS A PORT?
Patients who need any of the following need ports:
- Frequent administration of chemotherapy
- Frequent intravenous fluids
- Frequent blood transfusions
- Long-term TPN/ Intravenous nutrition and other drugs
In patients who already have ports, it is also used to take blood samples and administer IV contrast dye when having a CT scan.
How Long Can a Chemotherapy Port Stay?
A port-a-cath can be left in place for a long time, sometimes years, and reduces the need for repeated needle sticks. It can be removed very easily when not needed anymore.
How Is a Chemotherapy Port Inserted?
These devices can be placed under local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia, based on patient preference. A small cut is made on the skin of the chest wall and the port and catheter are inserted through that. The skin is then closed with absorbable stitches.
It is performed in an outpatient surgery center. Typically the procedure takes only 15-20 minutes.