Home 🡪 FAQ’s 🡪 Chemoport In Cancer Treatment

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Dr Praveen Kammar

Dr. Praveen Kammar

MS, MRCS, MCH Consultant Surgical Oncologist

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Chemoport In Cancer Treatment

What is a Chemoport?

Chemoport is a medical device that is implanted into the patient’s body (just under the skin of the chest, most commonly), primarily for chemotherapy. It has a small chamber with a thin tube (catheter) attached to it. This tube enters the vein. The entire device is under your skin and no part of the port is outside.

Why am I advised to get it inserted?

You have been advised to get a Chemoport inserted for administration of your chemotherapy.

What are the advantages of Chemoport?

Chemoport provides a long term and safe access to one of the large veins (blood vessels).

This avoids multiple needle pricks while you are undergoing chemotherapy, which is one of the most important advantages of a Chemoport.

During chemotherapy, you need to undergo blood tests before and after chemotherapy. Occasionally you may need transfusions, antibiotics and other medicines between your chemotherapy sessions. This means average 3-5 needle pricks in each chemotherapy session.

Many people are averse to needle pricks and some are truly scared of them.

The pain of needle prick may also induce a negative feeling towards chemotherapy which is not desirable.

In the absence of a Chemoport, chemotherapy is given via one of the small veins in your arms.

In some individuals, the blood vessels are too thin to accept an IV cannula.

Multiple Chemotherapy sessions via these small blood vessels have the risk of burning these vessels. This means with each cycle there are less numbers of vessels available for chemotherapy.

There is also a risk of drug spillage outside these vessels which can cause adverse skin reactions.

Both these things leave unsightly scars on the skin.

With Chemoport, all these adverse events can be avoided.

Besides receiving chemotherapy, are there any other advantages of having a Chemoport?

Chemoport can also be used for

  1. Drawing blood samples
  2. Giving blood transfusions
  3. Giving antibiotics and other medications

So, with a Chemoport in place you will essentially avoid all needle pricks.

How chemotherapy is administered from Chemoport?

The Chemoport has a chamber that is connected to a catheter

This chamber is placed underneath your skin at a suitable site (usually just below your collar bone). The catheter travels the skin and goes into a large blood vessel. The chamber receives the chemotherapy drug and pushes it into the catheter and the catheter takes it to the blood stream.

To administer chemotherapy a special needle is inserted into the port chamber through which chemotherapy is given.

Will it be painful every time a needle is inserted into my port?

Some amount of discomfort may be experienced when a needle is inserted but it is definitely not painful as a routine needle prick.

Where does the Chemoport go in my body?

The Chemoport is inserted to gain access to one of the major veins in the neck (internal jugular vein) or in the upper chest (subclavian vein). These are some of the largest veins in the body that are easily accessible and can hold port catheters for a long time, without problems.

Hence the Chemoport chamber is usually placed in the upper chest, just below the clavicle (the site may vary depending on the surgeon’s preference). And the catheter travels some distance under the skin to reach the vein in the neck or in the upper chest.

How is it inserted?

Chemoport insertion is a surgical procedure. The procedure can be done either in local anesthesia or general anesthesia.

Your neck and chest area is prepped and draped. Under ultrasound guidance one of the chosen veins are punctured and a guide wire is inserted. The position of the guide wire is confirmed on x-ray. This wire guide gives access to the vein.

A pocket is created under the skin of your upper chest (site may vary) to make space for the port chamber.

From this site the catheter end of the port is threaded to the neck or upper chest where we have inserted the guide wire. And the free end of the catheter is inserted into the vein with the help of another peelable sheath.

You can watch a surgical video of Chemoport insertion here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5sUOj0cW4w&t=184s

How long does it take to put a chemoport?

It usually takes around 45minutes to insert a Chemoport.

What preparations do I have to make before the insertion procedure?

Chemoport insertion is a day care procedure. No special preparation is required. Please talk to us directly to get more details on preoperative instructions.

Do I need anesthesia for this procedure?

Chemoport insertion can be done under local anesthesia with mild sedation, if you are comfortable. However if you are not comfortable with the idea of being aware and partly awake during the procedure, it can be done under general anesthesia as well.

How long do I have to stay in the hospital after the procedure?

Chemoport insertion is a day care procedure.

It requires 6-8 hours of in hospital stay (The duration may vary depending on the time taken for admission and discharge process).

What are the risks of this procedure?

The procedure is done under x-ray and sono guidance with close ECG monitoring to ensure safety. Hence this procedure can be considered to have minimum risk.

However, the possible risks of the procedure include

  • Bleeding
  • Clot formation
  • Pneumothorax (air leak into the chest)
  • Hemothorax (blood seepage into the chest)
  • Arrhythmias (changes in the rhythm of the heart beat)
  • Infection at the site
  • Blockage of the port

Is an X ray taken after the procedure?

An x ray is taken to confirm the position of the Chemoport and keep an official documentation

Is the Chemoport clearly visible through the skin?

It depends on your body habitus.

In a thin individual the bulge of the chamber and the catheter coursing the skin may be fairly visible, while in a person with more skin fat it may be practically not visible.

What care do I have to take after the discharge?

You can carry out your daily activities as before after the procedure.

However, we advise you not to do any strenuous physical activities in the first 2 weeks after the procedure.

You will have a waterproof dressing covering the wound. So you don’t need to pay any special attention to the surgical site.

Avoid direct pressure on the site (e.g. wearing a shoulder bag, sleeping on your tummy).

We advise not to bathe for the first 2 days after the procedure.

Your wound will be checked on day 2, when you will undergo a change of the dressing.

After confirming that the wound is healing well, we advise you to start bathing or sponging depending on your preference. Since we are using waterproof dressing for the second dressing as well, there is no risk of wetting the operated area.

If there are any stitches that need to be removed, it is usually done between 9-10 days after the surgery. Till that time we usually advise patients to retain the waterproof dressing.

How should I sleep after Chemoport insertion?

We encourage you to sleep on your back or on your side. Sleeping on your tummy may put direct pressure on your Chemoport.

Can I carry shoulder bags?

We also advise you to avoid carrying shoulder bags which put direct pressure on the port.

What care do I have to take while bathing?

Avoid vigorous rubbing over the port. You can work up lather and gently apply it on the port site. Similarly the same care needs to be taken while drying yourself. Avoid vigorous rubbing. Gentle patting or use of a blow dryer is advisable.

Will there be any restrictions on my activities if I undergo Chemoport insertion?

There are practically no restrictions on your activities. This is the biggest plus point of Chemoport.

Will there be any restrictions on my activities if I undergo Chemoport insertion?

There are practically no restrictions on your activities. This is the biggest plus point of Chemoport.

How long can I keep the Chemoport?

Chemoport can be retained for 1-2 years or more.

We generally advise to retain the Chemoport for at least 1 year after the completion of the treatment.

Who can use/access the Chemoport?

Not all medical personnel can access Chemoport.

Only trained nurses and doctors should access your Chemoport.

What maintenance is required? How often does a port need to be flushed?

The Chemoport needs flushing every 4-6 weeks. Flushing is necessary to keep the port patent. The port is flushed using a heparin solution and it is done by a trained professional.

When can I get the port removed?

We usually remove the Chemoport 6-12 months after the completion of chemotherapy or treatment whichever is later.

Is removal of Chemoport a major surgical procedure?

Removal of Chemoport is a minor surgical procedure that takes around 15-20minutes.

It is an outpatient procedure and you do not have to get admitted for the same.

The Chemoport is removed under local anesthesia.

You will typically spend around 2-3 hours in hospital for the same.

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