The Port Clinic
The Port Clinic
Roughly 1.8 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year. The CDC estimates that 650,000 patients per year receive chemotherapy as part of their treatment. Often, this is done through a medical device called a port. Ports are also used in cases when patients require many IV infusions or blood draws for their medical care.
Here at VIP, we ensure patients receive timely initiation of therapy by fast and effective placement of chest ports. A port can stay in for the duration of the patient’s care and will be removed when the treatment is complete.
What Is a Chest Port?
A chest port is a device that is inserted under the skin of the chest and placed into a blood vessel, providing medical professionals easy access to a vein for obtaining blood draws and administering medication, fluid and other treatments. There are two parts to an implanted port:
- Reservoir: This is the body of the port, which sits in the upper chest beneath the skin. It is the access point that will be used to give medications or draw blood. Needles can easily be inserted through its soft silicone top, or septum, which is called “accessing” the port.
- Catheter: The catheter is a thin, flexible tube that sits within the blood vessel. One end is connected to the port reservoir, and the other end rests in a large vein near the heart. This is how the port connects to the circulatory system.
A healthcare provider may recommend a port for patients who require frequent or long-term IV treatments, blood transfusions or blood draws for conditions such as:
- Cancer that requires chemotherapy
- Infections that require long-term antibiotics
- Frequent lab draws or frequent IV medications
Chest ports are usually placed about 1-2 inches below the right collarbone. They come in different shapes and sizes, and there may be one or two access points. Occasionally, patients require a special type of high-flow port for plasmapheresis or other treatments. Your doctor will choose the type of port that is best for you and your treatments.
How to Prepare for Port Placement
Do not eat or drink anything for six hours before your procedure. You may continue taking most of your regular medications with a sip of water. Please give us a list of medications and supplements you take, and let our team know if you use any blood thinners, as these may need to be stopped temporarily.
You may be asked to undergo bloodwork before your procedure to make sure it is safe to proceed with the port placement.
Arrange for a responsible driver to take you home because you will receive sedating medications. On the day of your appointment, please dress in comfortable clothing with a top that is easy to remove. If you wear bras, please wear a type you wear regularly so our team can insert the port where it will not interfere with the bra strap.
The Port Placement Procedure
Port implantation is an outpatient procedure that takes approximately one hour. When you arrive, our provider team will place an IV, take your vitals and discuss the procedure with you. Please do not hesitate to raise any questions or concerns you may have. You will then change into a procedure gown and be taken to a procedural room.
To begin the procedure, you will receive sedating medications and an anesthetic into the surgical site to make you comfortable. Access to the vein in the neck is obtained via a small nick in the skin. A pocket is created underneath the skin in your chest, and the body of the port is placed inside.
Under the skin, the catheter of the port is brought from the port body to the vein. The catheter is then placed into the vein. The pocket of the port is closed with absorbable stitches, and the skin is closed with surgical glue.
Recovering From Port Placement
While at VIP, we will monitor you as the sedation wears off to make sure you are feeling well. Your pre-arranged caregiver can drive you home when our team determines you are ready to leave. We will provide you with any instructions you need regarding aftercare and activity restrictions.
It is normal to have a small amount of bruising and soreness around your incision sites for a few days. You can manage the discomfort with over-the-counter pain medication if you need it. Most patients do not need prescription pain medication after port placement.
Your port is ready to use right away. We are reachable by phone for any questions, concerns or issues with your port.
How to Care for Your Implanted Port
Do not submerge the area in water for at least two weeks after port placement. Keep the area clean and dry. Once it has healed, the skin covering your port doesn’t need any special care. You can resume most activities.
Only allow medical professionals trained in port access to use your device. To administer a treatment, your provider will sterilize the skin (and, if needed, apply an anesthetic), then insert a thin needle into the silicone top of the port.
If you are not receiving regular treatments, you or your healthcare provider will flush out the port and catheter once a month. This lowers the risk of blockages and clots, ensuring the line is clear and ready for the next use.
Choosing Vascular and Interventional Partners for Your Chest Port
At Vascular and Interventional Partners in Scottsdale, AZ, we take pride in providing cutting-edge treatments with an attentive and comfortable patient experience. Our team includes Arizona’s leading interventional radiologists as well as experienced physician assistants, nurses and technicians. Together, we promise:
- To provide comprehensive and compassionate care
- To treat you as though you are family
- To make port placement appointments available within 72 hours, insurance permitting
- To perform your port placement procedure with exceptional technique
- To be available by phone during business hours for any questions, concerns or issues with your port. Issues at night or on weekends may need to be dealt with by an emergency physician or wait until the morning.
We love celebrating with our patients who have completed treatment and would like to see you back for port removal. This procedure is even more simple than port placement.