What is a Portacath?

A Portacath consists of a reservoir (the portal) and a tube (the catheter). The portal is implanted under the skin in the upper chest. It may appear as a bump under the skin in thin patients, less visible in patients with thicker subcutaneous fat. The catheter runs in a tunnel under the skin, going over the collarbone and then enters the large vein in the lower neck (the internal jugular vein). Since it is completely internal so swimming and bathing are not a problem. The septum of the portal is made of a special self-sealing silicone rubber. It can be punctured up to one thousand times and therefore can be used for many years.

Using modern technique, the Portacaths we have inserted are highly appreciated by patients, oncology nurses, and doctors. The procedure is easily performed with minimal risk and pain, a very small price for the convenience and safety months and years ahead.

 

What preparation is required?

You need to avoid solid food from midnight. Clear fluid and medications are allowed up to the time of the procedure. If you are on aspirin, Warfarin or Plavix, check with your own doctor if these can be stopped for 5 days. You can resume these medications the day after insertion. Insertion is best delayed if you have an active infection.

What is the aftercare required?

When the Portacath is no longer used, it needs to be flushed with saline and locked with heparinized saline once per month to keep it patent.

If the Portacath is no longer required, it can be removed by us. The procedure is performed under sedation and local anesthetic, similar to insertion.