What is the Chemo-Port? Structure, Types, Placement, Benefits and Risks

What is the Chemo-Port: A chemo port, also known as chemotherapy port a, is a small medical device with a thin silicon tube that is implanted under the skin to provide easy and direct access to a patient’s bloodstream.

What is the Chemo-Port

Chemotherapy ports are commonly used for long-term intravenous chemotherapy treatments, where frequent needle insertions can damage veins or cause discomfort for the patient. Patients who are going to have a long period of cancer are advised by the healthcare team to use this instead.  In this article, we will discuss the structure of a chemo port, what happens when it is placed in the body, the benefits of using a chemo port, the risks associated with it, and the removal process.

For Reference:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_(medical)

Structure of a Chemo Port

A chemo port is a small medical device that is typically made of plastic or metal. It is usually triangle, circular or oval-shaped and consists of three main parts, a catheter, a septum and a port.

  • The catheter is a thin, flexible tube that is inserted into a large vein near the heart, usually the jugular or subclavian vein. It connects the port to the veins.
  • It is a mini artificial reservoir that is inserted under the skin, usually in the chest or upper arm. The catheter is connected to the port, which allows for easy access to the bloodstream.
  • The septum is the centre part of the port and is made up of rubber material that cannot be punctured.

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Types of the Chemo-port

These types are classified on the basis of their access point –

  • Single lumen port – this chemo port has only one access point and is having a single needle. This is the utmost recommended type.
  • Double-lumen port – this has two access points and doctors keep two needles, one in each. This is preferred in some severe cases.
What is the Chemo-Port? Structure, Types, Placement, Benefits and Risks

Placement of a Chemo Port

A chemo port is usually implanted during a minor surgical procedure under local anaesthesia. One should go for this with someone beside them. The chemo port placement procedure include the steps given below –

  • The surgeon will first give you local anaesthesia around the marked area to daze it.
  • Then a small incision will be made to reach your veins, through your neck. The vein that is reached, can be the superior vena cava, jugular vein or subclavian vein.
  • Then they will insert the catheter into a large vein near the heart.
  • After that, a small pocket-like space is made in the subcutaneous layer of your chest or upper arm to place the post in it.
  • After placing the port in this new pouch created, a catheter is threaded through the vein to the pocket where the port is placed.
  • Once the port is in place, and the catheter is connected to it, the incision in the neck is stitched properly and left for healing at least for 3-4 days.  
  • The surgeon might also use the X-rays imaging technique to check the proper placement of the port.  
  • The entire process usually takes less than an hour.

Benefits of a Chemo Port

A chemo port has several benefits over other methods of administering chemotherapy.

  • Firstly, it provides direct and easy access to the bloodstream, which allows for faster and more efficient delivery of chemotherapy drugs.
  • Secondly, it reduces the need for repeated needle insertions, which can damage veins and cause discomfort for the patient.
  • Thirdly, it can be used for long-term chemotherapy treatments, making it a more convenient option for patients who require frequent treatments.

Risks of a Chemo Port

Although a chemo port is generally safe, there are some risks associated with its use. The most common risks include infection, bleeding, and blood clots. In rare cases, the catheter can puncture the vein, which can lead to complications such as a collapsed lung or a build-up of fluid around the heart. Your doctor might also suggest you limit physical movements that can cause your port to dislocate. However, these risks can be minimized by following proper care and maintenance guidelines and by regularly monitoring the port.

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Removal of a Chemo Port

A chemo port is usually removed once chemotherapy treatment is complete. The removal procedure is similar to the placement procedure, and it is usually done under local anaesthesia. The surgeon will make a small incision in the skin, disconnect the catheter from the port, and gently remove the port from the pocket. Once the port is removed, the incision is closed with stitches, and the patient can usually go home the same day.

In conclusion, a chemo port is a small medical device that is implanted under the skin to provide easy and direct access to a patient’s bloodstream during chemotherapy treatment. While there are some risks associated with its use, the benefits of using a chemo port generally outweigh the risks, making it a valuable tool for patients who require long-term chemotherapy treatments. If you are undergoing chemotherapy, talk to your doctor to see if a chemo port is right for you.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to sleep in any position with the chemo port on?

No, if you have a chemo–port on, the most appropriate position to sleep on is your back. Lying on the back will exert the least pressure on your port. While lying on your stomach might increase the risk of tissue scar due to pressure on your port.

When should I need to talk to my healthcare team?

If you have a pot on and you are noticing a soreness around your port, if your port is bleeding, and you observe a change in color around the port with or without severe pain. You should immediately seek a doctor’s help.

Can a patient have a shower with a chemo port on?

Yes, you can take a shower with the port on, but at least 24-48 hours post the chemo-port surgery. Or you can cover it with some plastic to avoid it getting wet. After the stitches healed you can even swim if your doctor says so.

Is it pain severe after a chemo port surgery?

It may pain slightly while inserting chemo drugs or drawing blood from your chemo port, but this is much easier as compared to all the intravenous needle stick treatment methods.

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