What is port implantation?

Port Implantation
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Implanted port: Overview

An implanted port is a device to put medicine, blood, nutrients, or fluids directly into your blood. The port may be used to draw blood for tests only if another vein, such as in the hand or arm, can't be used. People can have a port for weeks, months, or longer.

A port is usually put under the skin of your chest below your collarbone. A thin, flexible tube goes from the port into a large vein. This tube also goes under your skin. It's called a catheter.

A port can be made of plastic, stainless steel, or titanium. It's usually about the size of a quarter, but thicker. It has a silicone bubble in the center. This is called a septum.

Before your doctor puts in the port, you will get medicine to make you sleep or feel relaxed. Then the doctor threads the catheter up a vein in your neck or chest to a larger vein. Next, the doctor puts in the port just under your skin. It looks like a small bump.

Fluid goes into the port through a needle. You will feel a slight pain when the needle goes into the port. Some ports have a small reservoir that can be filled with medicine or fluid. The reservoir slowly puts medicine into your bloodstream. A special needle may stay in the port for a short time. This is called a Huber needle.

How can you care for your child's implanted port?

  • After the port is inserted, have your child take it easy for about 1 day. Your child will be able to return to normal activities shortly after. How soon depends on how your child feels, what types of activities your child does, and why the port is needed.
  • Talk to the doctor about any limits on your child's activity. Your child probably will be able to bathe and swim. But your child may need to avoid some activities if a Huber needle is left in the port.
  • Don't let your child wear anything tight (like a sports bra, suspenders, or a backpack strap) that irritates the skin near the port.
  • Have your child carry a medical alert card in a safe place. Your child will get a card with information about the port. It will tell health care workers about the port in case your child needs emergency care.
  • Make sure to go to all follow-up appointments. A nurse or other health professional will flush the port to keep it open.

How do you prepare for your implanted port procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

After your implanted port procedure: Overview

You've had a procedure to implant a port. A port is a device placed, in most cases, under the skin of your chest below your collarbone. It is made of plastic, stainless steel, or titanium. It's about the size of a quarter, but thicker. It looks like a small bump under your skin.

A thin, flexible tube called a catheter runs under the skin from the port into a large vein. With the port, you will be able to get medicines (such as chemotherapy) with more comfort. You also can get blood, nutrients, or other fluids. Blood can be taken through the port for tests.

You will probably have some discomfort and bruising at the port site. This will go away in a few days.

The port can be used right away. You may have the port for weeks, months, or longer.

Your port will need to be flushed out regularly to keep it open. A nurse or other health professional will do this for you.

What happens on the day of your implanted port procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The procedure will take about 1 hour.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.