What is a PORT-A-CATH® – Implantable Venous Access Device?

The systems are called Implantable Venous Access Systems or, more commonly, an implanted port because they are placed completely under the skin — usually in a convenient and inconspicuous location on your chest.

How are the systems placed in the body?

Implantation of a PORT-A-CATH® system involves a minor, brief surgical procedure. It is placed completely inside the body. One end of the catheter is inserted into the vein, while the other end is connected to the portal — which is placed completely under the skin. The tip of the catheter is located in a vein at a point just above the heart. Once the portal and catheter are in place and the incisions are healed, you will only notice a small bump under your skin.

How are medications and fluids delivered through the system?

After the port is implanted, it can be used for the delivery of fluids, medications, and obtaining blood samples. To access your implanted port, the oncologist will insert a needle through your skin and the portal septum. Because the needle goes through the skin, you will probably feel a pricking sensation. This sensation may decrease over time. The medication or fluid flows through the needle into the portal chamber and through the catheter directly into the bloodstream. The medications or fluids are administered into the system using a syringe, sometimes called IV push, or as a continuous infusion through IV tubing attached to a medication bag with or without the use of an infusion pump. Please note, on occasion, your PORT-A-CATH® may not always give/or have a blood return when we attempt withdrawal.

Caring for your PORT-A-CATH®

Your implanted port requires minimal care between uses because it is completely under the skin. You may wash and bathe normally. You should inspect the portal area regularly. If you notice swelling, bruising, redness, or tenderness, please inform your oncology nurse. The implanted port must be flushed with a heparin solution to prevent blood clots from forming inside the catheter. This creates what is usually referred to as a heparin lock. Your nurse will flush your port after an infusion or injection and every four weeks when not in use.