Implanted Port Care
What is an implanted port?
An implanted port is shaped like a disk. It is placed (implanted) under the skin during surgery. Ports can be used for giving IV (intravenous) medicines, fluids, food, or taking blood samples.
The most common place for a port is on your upper chest just below your collarbone. It can also be put in your arm, leg, or abdomen. Ports come in many shapes and sizes. Your doctor will choose the port and decide where to put it. He or she will look at your body size and what your port will be used for.
Your port can stay in as long as your doctor feels you need it. It is made from special materials, so it is safe for long-term use. When your port is not being used, a special liquid is put into it once a month.
How is the port placed?
Your port will be put in during a short surgery in the operating room. It is usually done under local anesthesia. Local anesthesia numbs the part of the body being worked on. The surgeon will make a small cut into the area where the port will go. He or she will put the port just under your skin. A small flexible tube called a catheter is attached to the port. The tip of the catheter will be put into the large vein leading to your heart.
How does the port work?
Your port will look like a small, raised area under your skin. The center of the disk is raised. This is called the septum. Fluids are put into or taken out of the port using a special needle that goes into the septum. Most patients feel a mild pricking when the needle goes into their skin over the septum.
The catheter connects to the septum. The catheter takes the medicine or fluids right into the blood. Blood for lab tests can also be taken out through the catheter. When the needle is removed from the septum, no fluids or blood can leak out. The port can be used on the same day it is put in.
Caring for your port
If you stay in the hospital, a nurse will take care of your incision and implanted port. At first, your small incision will have adhesive strips (i.e. Steri-Strips™) on it. It will be covered with a small bandage. The adhesive strips stay in place until the incision heals. The incision should heal in about 5 to 7 days. After that, you do not have to wear a bandage except when the port is being used for a continuous infusion. A bandage will be used to keep the needle steady and protected while it is being used.
If you are going home after your port is inserted, your nurse may set up a home-care nurse visit. If you do not need a home-care nurse, you will get directions and special training for your port. For the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, the area around your incision will be tender and a little red. You should call your doctor if this doesn’t improve. You should also call your doctor if you have severe pain, a fever of 100.5 F or above, bleeding, or swelling.
After surgery, you will get a manufacturer’s medical alert information card. This card has information about your port. You should carry it in your wallet in case you need medical treatment from health care workers who don’t know your medical history. You may want to think about buying a MedicAlert® bracelet or necklace. It would give information about your port to emergency health care workers.
How will the port affect my daily activities?
Do not do any tiring activities for the first few days after surgery. Make sure you understand and follow any special instructions that your doctor or nurse give you. When your incision is healed, you may go back to normal activities. Check with your doctor or nurse about specific activities such as jogging, swimming, and tennis.
Can I bathe or shower?
The bandage must be kept dry until the incision is completely healed. This usually takes 5 to 7 days. You can not take a shower during this time. You can usually take a bath if the port is in your chest, but you have to keep the bandage dry. You should ask your doctor or nurse for instructions on how you should bathe.
Are there some types of clothes that I should avoid?
The clothes that you can wear, and those you may need to stay away from, depend on the location of your port. For example, if your port is in your upper chest, you may have to stay away from some types of bra straps or suspenders. Ask your nurse if you have a question about an item of clothing.
Who pays for the port?
You should check with your insurance company. Most insurance policies will pay for the port.
Will the port set off security alarms?
The port does not usually set off security alarms. If it does, you can show your medical alert information card.
How is the port removed?
The port is taken out during surgery. The surgery will be similar to the surgery you had when it was put in.
When to call your doctor
Once your incision is healed, call your doctor if you have any:
You can also call your doctor or nurse if you have any other problems with your port.
Revised February 2013