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Implanted Venous Access Port
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
An implanted venous access port is a device used to give treatments and to take blood. It may also be called a central venous access device (CVAD). The port is a small container that is placed under your skin, usually in your upper chest. A port can also be placed in your arm or abdomen. The container is attached to a catheter (tube) that enters a large vein.
Prevent central line-associated bloodstream infections:
The area around your port may get infected, or you may get an infection in your bloodstream. A catheter-associated infection is caused by bacteria getting into your bloodstream through your port. Infections from ports can lead to severe illness. The following are ways you can help prevent an infection:
- Wash your hands: Use soap or an alcohol-based hand rub to clean your hands. Clean your hands before and after you care for your port. Ask your primary healthcare provider for information on how to wash your hands. Remind anyone who cares for your port to wash their hands.
- Wear medical gloves: Wear clean medical gloves when you care for your port or change bandages.
- Limit contact: Do not touch or handle your port unless you need to care for it.
- Clean your skin: Clean the skin around your port every day and just before you change your bandage. Ask your primary healthcare provider what to use to clean your skin.
- Check for infection: Check your skin every day for signs of infection, such as pain, redness, swelling, and oozing. Contact your primary healthcare provider if you see these signs.
- Cover the area: Keep a sterile bandage over the port site for as long as your primary healthcare provider directs. You may no longer need a bandage after your catheter site heals. Change the bandage as directed or when it is loose, wet, dirty, or falls off. Change your bandage in a place away from open windows, heating ducts, and fans. Be sure it is well-lit, clean, and free of dust. Clean the skin under the bandage with the solution your primary healthcare provider suggests. Let the area dry before you put on the new bandage.
Care for your implanted venous access port:
- Use your port correctly at home: Your primary healthcare provider may show you or a family member how to give medicines or liquids through your port. A caregiver may also visit you in your home to give you medicines or treatments. Always wash your hands and wear clean or sterile medical gloves before you touch the port site. Remind anyone who cares for your port to wash their hands and wear gloves.
- Get trained: Never try to use your port without proper training. Ask your primary healthcare provider to show you how to use your port, and to give you written directions. Medicines and treatments will enter your port through tubing attached to the needle. The tubing used to give medicine or liquids must be changed. Ask how often to change the needle and tubing. You will need to know how to prepare the medicine and put it into the port. You will also need to know how to take the needle out. Ask your primary healthcare provider how often these tasks need to be done.
- Flush your port: The port is flushed to prevent the catheter from becoming blocked and medicines from mixing. A syringe is used to push a small amount of saline (salt water) or heparin (a blood thinner) into the port and catheter. Heparin is a medicine that helps prevent blood clots from forming inside the catheter. Heparin can cause an allergic reaction or bleeding problems. Saline is normally flushed between medicines and treatments. Heparin is normally flushed between each port use.
- Pain medicine: You may be given medicine to take away or decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
- Topical anesthetic: Topical anesthetic is a cream that can be put on the skin to numb it. Topical anesthetic can numb the area before your port is accessed (entered) with the non-coring needle. Ask your primary healthcare provider if and when you should put the medicine on your port site.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to see your primary healthcare provider to have stitches removed about 1 week after you get your port. Medical glue should peel off on its own in about 5 to 10 days. Do not try to peel the skin glue off, even if there are loose edges.
Implanted venous access information card:
Your primary healthcare provider will give you a paper or card with information about your port type. Keep this information in a safe and easy-to-find place.
You may return to your normal activities when the area heals. You can be active when your port is not being used. You will also be able to bathe, shower, swim, and do other water activities.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- Your child has a fever.
- The skin around your port is red, warm, painful, or oozing fluid.
- You see blood on your bandage and the amount is increasing.
- The skin over or around your port breaks open.
- The veins in your neck or chest bulge.
- You hear a bubbling noise when your port is flushed.
- The non-coring needle will not enter your port smoothly.
- You cannot pull blood from your port, flush your port, or get your medicine through your port.
- You have questions about how to care for your port.
- You run out of supplies to care for your skin or port.
Return to the emergency department if:
- Your heart is jumping or fluttering.
- You have a headache, blurred vision, and feel confused.
- You have pain in your arm, neck, shoulder, or chest.
- The port site turns cold, changes color, or you cannot feel it.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.