Port-A-Cath, also called an implanted port or implantable venous access system, is a small medical device that is implanted beneath the skin in the chest or arm to allow easy access to the bloodstream when you require frequent or continuous administration of medicine. Port-A-Cath is used for drawing blood, infusing drugs (example: chemotherapy) and nutrients, and also for blood transfusions.
The Port-A-Cath system has three parts:
Port-A-Cath placement requires a minor surgical procedure that takes less than an hour and is performed under local anesthesia or with sedation. Your doctor will make an incision in the chest or arm to place the port completely under the skin. One end of the catheter is attached to the port and the other is inserted into a large vein in the chest or arm (based on the port placement) and the tip of the catheter is threaded into the large vein (subclavian vein or jugular vein) just above the heart, near your neck. Once the system is in place, you can see or feel a small bump in your chest or arm from the portal.
Once implanted, the Port-A-Cath can be accessed to deliver drugs or draw blood samples by inserting a special needle through your skin into the silicone septum of the port. Your doctor may apply an anesthetic cream to numb the region of the needle prick. For drug delivery, the medication is injected through a needle or IV into the portal reservoir, and is slowly released through the catheter into the bloodstream.
Risks and Complications
Great measures are taken throughout the procedure to avoid any complication. However, rare complications may occur that include:
Caring for your Port-A-Cath
Once the system has been implanted under your skin you will be instructed on ways to take care of the port and precautions you need to follow. The following are some general guidelines:
When the system is looked after well, it can remain in place for the entire duration of the therapy.
Advantages of Port-A-Cath
The implanted Port-A-Cath has the following benefits:
More than one type of medication or other treatment can be given at the same time using a double port system.