You and your doctor may be surgery because it has been determined that you need durable access to your veins to assist you with getting chemotherapy, blood draws, and/ or fluids for your upcoming treatment.

Your central veins are accessed through your neck or upper chest, depending on specifics of your treatment. A long catheter is placed into the vein, and a port is placed superficially on your chest to be accessed for your treatments.

An implanted port has two parts, the “port” and the “catheter”:

  • The port is a small device that sits under your skin and is about the size of a quarter. The port has a small chamber with a raised center called the “septum”, which is sealed with a soft silicon top. The septum is where a special needle can be inserted through the skin to access and use the port.
  • A small catheter connects to the port. The catheter is a thin, soft plastic tube that is put into a large vein in your chest. The catheter connects the port to the large vein.

How is a port put in?

Two small incisions will be made during the procedure: One incision will be made near the bottom of your neck above your collarbone. A second incision will be made on your upper chest. This is where the port will be placed under your skin.A tunnel is then made under your skin between the two incisions. The catheter is connected to the port, pulled through the tunnel and placed into a large vein just above your heart.

The incisions are closed and held together by stitches, special surgical glue or steri-strips (small tapes). Both incisions are covered with a small gauze dressing. You may feel and see a raised area on your chest where the port has been placed.

Some of the potential complications of port placement are:

  • bleeding from the veins requiring further surgery or interventions
  • infection of the port or catheter requiring removal
  • malfunction or misplacement of the port or catheter requiring replacement or an additional surgery
  • puncture of your lung requiring a tube be placed in your chest
  • allergic or bad reactions to one or more of the substances used in surgery

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Increased bleeding or drainage from your incisions
  • Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher
  • More redness at your incision
  • Increased pain, bruising, tenderness on the same side the port was placed
  • Swelling of the face, neck, chest or arm on the same side where the port was put in
  • Any other problems with your port