What is an implantable port?
An Port-a-cath is a device that is implanted in the body (normally the right hand side of the chest wall) and used to deliver medications into the venous system. It consists of a reservoir, which lies under the skin and a catheter, which lies within the vein.
How is a Port-a-cath inserted?
A Port-a-cath is inserted under imaging guidance, normally a combination of ultrasound and x-ray. An injection of x-ray dye is used in order to confirm the appropriate positioning of the catheter tip, within the the largest vein in the body (adjacent to the heart).
The port reservoir will be placed in a small pocket fashioned on the chest wall. This will be closed with dissolvable suture. The incision will be covered with a small bandage, to be kept dry until it is healed.
The procedure is normally performed under a combination of twilight sedation and local anaesthetic.
How is a Port-a-cath used?
The port will be accessed with a special, “non-coring” needle that will not damage the septum of the reservoir. This will need to be done under strict sterile conditions. After this is done, blood may be drawn for testing, or medications may be administered directly into the venous blood stream. Newer generation ports may also be used for injection of dye during diagnostic tests such as CT scanning. After use, the needle is flushed with a special solution and the needle removed. The port is completely sequestered away from the external environment when not in use.