Chemotherapy involves giving medicines into a vein, often repeatedly and over longer hours. It also entails multiple needle pricks both to draw blood for tests and then again to attach a saline infusion. Sometimes it is difficult to get needles into your veins, or if the walls of your veins have been hardened by previous treatment. The placement of an intravenous line depends on the calibre of the veins in the hand.
The hand veins are very friable and can get easily destroyed by the medicines used in chemotherapy. Sometimes the doctors or the nurses may have to make three or four attempts each time in a different place in hands or arms to get the right kind of vein to give chemotherapy medicines.
If a drug leaks into the area around the vein while being given, this is called as spill or extravasation. This can happen if a cannula dislodges and is no longer positioned in the vein correctly. In such a case there may be swelling, pain, stinging or redness during your treatment and since some medicines are strong they can damage the tissues and may even cause burns at the site of spill.
A CHEMOTHERAPY PORT AVOIDS THESE PROBLEMS.
What is a chemotherapy port?
A port is a small device with a hollow space inside that is sealed by a soft top. The port is connected to a small flexible tube called a catheter.
How is the port placed in the body?
Placing a chemotherapy port is a short procedure and usually done in the operation theatre under general anaesthesia. In this procedure, the port is placed completely beneath the skin on your upper chest, and tube is inserted into a vein at the neck until its tip sits just above the level of heart. Once it is in place you can feel and see the port as a small bump underneath the skin of your chest, but nothing shows on the outside of your body.
How will the medicine be administered?
A special type of needle called the port needle or the Huber needle is used to puncture the skin and into the soft top of the port disc. This is then connected to the saline bottle for giving medicines. The skin over the port can be numbed with an anaesthetic cream first so you don't feel any discomfort.
What care should I take with the port in my body?
After each treatment a small amount of fluid is 'flushed' into the catheter so that it does not become blocked. The port will need to be flushed every four weeks if it is not being used regularly. Your doctor or nurse at the hospital will give you more information on this. Apart from this, your port will not need any care at all.
How long can a port be kept in the body?
The port can be left in place for weeks, months or, for some people, years. Usually the port is kept in the body till the chemotherapy treatment is necessary. Once the treatment is over it should be removed.
How the port is removed?
When you no longer need the implantable port it will be taken out. This is usually done by a doctor who will use a local anaesthetic to numb the area. The doctor will make a small incision over the site of the port and remove it. The catheter will be pulled out of the vein. The wound is then stitched and covered with a small dressing.
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"This website has been designed for informational and educational purposes only. Care has been taken to provide readers with the right information about various cancers and their treatment and it is not intended to replace medical advice offered by other surgeons, physicians or health care providers".