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Port implantation is surgery to place (implant) a port under the skin. For vascular access, it is placed into a vein. The port allows medications or nutrition to be sent straight into your bloodstream. Blood can also be taken or given through the port. During the procedure, a long, thin tube called a catheter is threaded into one of your large veins. The tube is then attached to the port. This usually sits under the skin of the chest and causes a small bump. To use the port, a special needle is passed through the skin and into the port. The needle can stay in the skin for up to 7 days, if needed. A port can stay in place for weeks or months.
A vascular access port may allow healthcare providers to give you:
Chemotherapy or other cancer-fighting drugs.
IV treatments, such as antibiotics or nutrition.
Regular blood draws.
Hemodialysis (for kidney failure)
Follow any instructions you are given on how to prepare. Be sure your provider knows:
All medications, herbs, or supplements you take.
If you are or might be pregnant.
If you are allergic to any medications or substances.
Before the procedure, an IV may be put into a vein in your arm or hand. This gives you fluids and medications. Medication to help you relax during the procedure may be given through the IV. This is called sedation.
The chest is used most often for the port. In some cases, abdomen (belly) or arm is used instead.
The skin over the insertion area is numbed with local anesthetic.
X-rays are used to help the doctor see inside the body during the procedure.
An incision is made in the skin where the port will be placed. A small “pocket” for the port is formed under the skin.
A second small incision is made in the skin near the first incision. A “tunnel” under the skin is created. The catheter is put through the tunnel and into the blood vessel.
The skin is closed over the port. It is held shut with sutures (stitches) or surgical glue or tape.
A chest x-ray may be done to make sure the port is placed properly.
You may be taken to a recovery room where you’ll recover from the sedation. Nurses will check on you as you rest. If you have pain, nurses can give you medication. If you are not staying in the hospital overnight, you will be sent home a few hours after the procedure is done. A healthcare provider will tell you when you can go home. When you leave the hospital, an adult family member or friend will need to drive you.
Take pain medication as directed by your doctor.
Take it easy for 24 hours after the procedure. Avoid physical activity and heavy lifting until your doctor says it’s okay.
Keep the port clean and dry. You can take a tub bath if you protect the port from getting wet. Ask when you can return to showering. You will need to keep the port dry by covering it when you shower.
Care for the insertion site as you are directed.
Don’t swim, bathe, or do other activities that cause water to cover the insertion site.
To keep the port from getting blocked with blood clots, flush it as often as directed.
Infection of the insertion site
Damage to a blood vessel
Nerve injury or irritation
Blockage of port
Leakage or breakage of the port
Dislodgement of port
Skin or bloodstream infection
Call your doctor right away for any of the following:
A fever of 100.4°F or higher
You cannot access or use the port properly
You cannot flush the port or get a blood return
The skin near the port is red, warm, swollen, or broken
You have shoulder pain on the side where the port is located