Home Care for Implantable Vascular Access Ports (Chestports)
A chestport is a device that is implanted under your skin so that medications may be delivered directly into your blood system. The device has two parts – a catheter tube that stays in the vein and the port reservoir that is placed in a pocket made under skin. Once healed, it is totally below the skin, which makes it very comfortable. The chestport is designed for safe, long-term use in your body. It can stay in place permanently if necessary. When not in use, the only care a port requires is flushing once a month with a solution of heparin and saline to prevent blood clots from forming inside the line and causing a blockage. The round part of the device that can be felt under the skin is called the reservoir.
When the port is “accessed,” a special needle is placed through the skin into the reservoir through a plastic membrane called a septum. The raised “septum” is made from a selfsealing rubber, which allows repeated injections into the port so that you do not need to get injected directly into the skin or have an IV (intravenous) line inserted each time you require medication. You may also hear the terms Mediport, Port-A-Cath®, Infus-A-Port®, or other similar terms. These are other products that serve similar functions.
How Does the Chestport Work?
The port can be used to deliver medication or draw a blood sample by inserting a special needle into the port. The needle connects to the catheter inside the port; the other end of the catheter is located inside a fairly large blood vessel.
How Do I Care for my Chestport?
- You will need to take care of the small incision that results from implanting your Mediport® for the first few days. The area will feel sore, like a bruise, for one to two days after the procedure and be entirely healed in about 10 days.
- Do not lift heavy objects.
- Avoid heavy exertion and contact sports until the area is healed.
- During the first week after implantation – and anytime the port is accessed – it is very important to keep it dry. Cover the area surrounding your port with a double layer of plastic wrap when showering and tape the edges down.
- For the first TWO weeks – and anytime the port is accessed – do not submerge the port in water (pool, bath, or hot tub).
- The incision will be bandaged until the incision heals. The incision should be covered with gauze every day for the first several days. Once the incision heals, the port requires no special care, you do not need a bandage, and you can resume your normal activity level when the port is not in use.
- After the first week, be sure to clean the incisions with soap and water, letting the sterile tape get wet. The tape will loosen and eventually fall off – but do not pull on the tape before it is loose.
What If I Suspect a Problem?
You will most likely have some redness/soreness around the incision for one to two days after your chestport is implanted. Should it last beyond this time, please call your doctor or nurse.
Call your doctor immediately if you expericence
- Swelling, or increasing redness or soreness in the incision area
- Fever of 100.4ºF or more
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness • Bleeding around the incision or port (after the 2nd day)
- Bleeding that soaks a gauze (at any time)
- Difficulty flushing, when port is accessed
How long will I have to have this line in place?
Only your physician can let you know how long your therapy will last. When you no longer need the therapy, the chestport can be removed.
Where will I get my supplies and equipment?
Your supply needs will be coordinated by a home care agency and you will receive instructions on their use. Store all your supplies in a clean, dry area, at waist height or above.
If You Have Any Questions or Concerns
Your chestport is an important part of your care and we encourage you to call us if you have questions or concerns. Your physician can be reached by calling your clinic. After hours, on holidays or on weekends, call (716) 845-2300 and ask to speak to the physician on call for your clinic.
What to Do in an Emergency
If you require medical attention outside of business hours, please go to the Buffalo General Hospital Emergency Room. The doctors and nurses at Buffalo General have access to your medical records and will work with Roswell Park to coordinate your care. If you live outside of the Buffalo area, please go directly to your nearest hospital emergency room.