In This Page:
- Need to Know
- Nice to Know
- How Does It Work?
- What Happens — Before, During, and After?
- How Should I Prepare?
- What Should I Bring?
- What Are the Benefits and Risks?
A port is a device that is implanted under the skin. It allows an easy and reliable way to give medicine into the veins and take blood samples from the veins.
Need to Know
Nice to Know
How Does It Work?
A port is about the size of a quarter. You can feel its raised center under your skin. A flexible piece of tubing (a catheter) is connected to the port. This is tunneled under the skin to an area near the neck where it enters a vein. Each time you receive medication or need blood drawn, a needle will be inserted into the port rather than into your veins, eliminating the need for multiple needle sticks.
What Happens — Before, During, and After?
A clinical staff member will bring you into the pre-procedure area and ask you to change into a gown. An intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into a vein in your hand or arm. Your doctor will greet you, review the procedure, and answer any questions you may have. You will be brought into the procedure room, and you’ll be positioned on the procedure table. You will be connected to monitors for your heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse.
The technologist will shave, sterilize, and cover the area of your body where the port will be inserted with a surgical drape, usually the chest. A local anesthetic is administered to numb the side of the neck and the chest area. The radiologist will then insert a small tube (catheter) in the vein in your neck. Then, a small pocket will be made under your chest about 2 to 3 inches below your collarbone. The port will fit into the pocket. After that, the tubing that is connected to the port is tunneled under the skin so that it enters the neck vein. After the port is in place, the skin is closed with sutures and liquid suture material. The procedure takes approximately 1 hour.
How Should I Prepare?
There are things you can do to make your experience more comfortable, and many of these will depend on your individual preferences. You might like to keep a list of questions or – as you’re doing now- educate yourself about the procedure.
You will need to get blood tests to check your liver and kidney function.
Another important part of your preparation will be guided by your doctor:
- Your doctor may ask you to stop taking aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), or blood thinners (such as Coumadin, Warfarin, Plavix, Fragmin) for a time before the procedure.
Some of your preparation will need to be timed to the procedure:
- The day before the procedure (or the Friday before, if you’re scheduled for a Monday procedure), a clinical staff member from the Interventional Radiology Department will call you. The clinical staff member will give you any additional instructions, and will ask if you have any questions.
- In the 8 hours before the procedure, do not drink fluids or eat food.
- You may take the medications with a sip of water
- When you arrive, make sure the clinical staff member and radiologist know about any allergies you may have, especially allergies to local anesthetics (such as lidocaine), general anesthetics, or x-ray dye (contrast media). If there’s any chance you might be pregnant, tell your radiologist.
What Should I Bring?
On the day of your procedure you should:
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Avoid bringing jewelry or valuables
What Are the Benefits and Risks?
The benefits of Port Placement could be:
- Elimination of the need for multiple needle sticks
- The port is completely contained under the skin
- The procedure can be performed as an outpatient procedure
Risks you should be aware of include:
- Like any catheterization procedure, there is risk of damage to blood vessels, bruising, bleeding, or infection at the puncture site
Keep in mind that this information is general. Your radiologist is the best source of information about how these risks and benefits may apply to you.