Your treatment plan requires frequent administration of medications, chemotherapy, or intravenous fluids into your bloodstream. An implantable venous access system (port-a-cath) allows you to receive this treatment in a convenient manner. This system consists of a port that is implanted under the skin of the chest. This port has a self-sealing silicone diaphragm. The port is connected to a catheter that is inserted into one of the large veins of the neck or chest. Implantation of the port-a-cath system involves a brief surgical procedure to place the port and catheter entirely inside the body. The catheter is inserted into one of the large central veins, with the tip of the catheter positioned just above the heart. The port is secured to the chest wall under the skin below the collarbone. The port is inserted through a small skin incision. When the incisions are healed, you will just notice a small bump underneath the skin. When you are undergoing treatment, a specially trained nurse can access the system by inserting a needle through the skin and into the silicone diaphragm. The medication or fluid can then flow through the needle, into the port, and through the catheter directly into the bloodstream. When the treatment episode is completed, the port is flushed with blood-solution to prevent clotting, and the needle is removed. This will allow to you to resume your regular daily activities.
Are there any risks during the procedure?
Implantation of the system does have some associated risks. As with all surgical procedures, there is a slight risk of bleeding or infection. Insertion of the catheter may cause a collapsed lung, known as a pneumothorax, which may require hospitalization for a couple of days and possibly a chest tube to allow expansion of the lung. At the end of the procedure, a chest x-ray will confirm proper placement of the catheter and will rule out a pneumothorax.
After implantation of the port, you will be given more detailed instructions on the care of your port and the incision.
When your entire treatment regimen is completed and your doctor has determined that you no longer need the port, the system is easily removed with another brief outpatient surgical procedure.