By Ryan MacArthur |

Patients who require frequent chemotherapy treatments, blood transfusions, antibiotics, intravenous feedings or need to have their blood regularly drawn are prime candidates to receive a port catheter (port for short).

An IV port is an IV catheter that healthcare providers place under a patient’s skin. It usually goes somewhere in the upper chest area close to a large, main vein. The right internal jugular vein is typically the preferred choice for a port due to its proximity to the skin and relative ease to find via ultrasound.

IV port

Photo: https://infuserveamerica.com/iv-line-access/

How Does an IV Port Work?

The device is roughly the size of a thimble and has a small reservoir made of silicone septum. Because silicone septum is able to self-seal, the port can take hundreds of punctures before it needs replacing. This makes it so patients can avoid numerous IV placements while also limiting damage to their veins.

A doctor or nurse uses a special tool called a non-coring needle to administer treatments or draw blood through the port. In pediatrics, a numbing cream may be used to help alleviate the discomfort when the port is being placed.

 

Benefits of an IV Port

IV ports have the ability to stay in place for several weeks, months or even years. They normally have less risk of infection and a much lower rate of failure compared to a peripheral IV.

Some medications, particularly IV chemotherapy treatments, can cause serious tissue damage if they leak out of the vein into the surrounding tissue, a complication called IV extravasation. Ports reduce the chances of extravasation occurring and limit bruising or bleeding.

Disadvantages of an IV Port

Placing a port requires a surgical procedure that can take anywhere from 45 to 120 minutes. When the port is not regularly in use, patients must flush the device to keep it patent. Issues that can occur with a port include line blockage, the port becoming dislodged, or catheter migration.

 

References:

Image Source: http://www.sir.net.au/portacath.html

Analysis of risk factors for central venous port failure in cancer patients – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2754519/

Complications of Port A Cath implantation: A single institution experience – https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378603X15001242

Implantable Ports – https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/treating/chemotherapy/being-treated-with-chemotherapy/implantable-ports.html

Catheters and Ports in Cancer Treatment – https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/chemotherapy/catheters-and-ports-cancer-treatment

To Port or Not to Port  – Advantages & Disadvantages – https://gboncology.com/blog/to-port-or-not-to-port-advantages-and-disadvantages/

 

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