This morning, I am going for my Port-A-Cath insertion, which means: Commencement of phase two in the FBC fight.
What is a Port-A-Cath? As you may recall from a previous post, a Port-A-Cath is a device that facilitates the administration of chemotherapy into the venous system (i.e., into my veins). It is a fabulous gadget that is used to make the administration of chemotherapy and blood draws easier. It can also reduce the risk of certain chemotherapy caused side effects. This device will be placed under my skin, in the upper part of my chest (though some people have it placed in the arm).
Why have one? Because there is greater blood flow through the central veins than through the peripheral veins (i.e. in the arms, hands, legs and feet), chemotherapy can be administered through the central lines with less risk of causing chemical phlebitis (inflammation of a vein).
How is it inserted? The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, with the aid of imaging guidance (ultrasound and X-ray) in the angiography suite of radiology department.
The actual procedure takes less than an hour. An intravenous sedation is given (SL!) to make the local anaethetic injection less painful. There will be a skin incision 3cm long on the chest wall for the port pocket and a 5mm incision in the lower neck to enter the vein. Absorbable sutures are used for the chest wound and are buried under the skin.
Is this TMI?!?! Perhaps not because The Husband just asked me, “Is there an incision?”
What is the surgical preparation? Prior to most medical procedures, patients are required to be “NPO” after midnight. The Latin translation is nil per os. For practical purposes, this translates to “nothing by mouth.”
The purpose of being NPO (i.e., fasting) is to protect your lungs from aspiration. Aspiration is what happens when acid, food or liquid in your stomach gets regurgitated into your lungs. This is B A D.
Anesthesia causes a person to lose all reflexes including the gag and cough reflexes which protect the airway and lungs. While anesthetized or sedated, it is easier for anything in the stomach to be regurgitated into the lungs. Ewwwww.
So, I’m NPO as I type.
What happens after it is inserted? I should be able to go home two hours following the procedure, after recovering from the sedation. The Husband will be with me and will bring me home as I’ll probably be quite tipsy and pretty sleepy.
The image below is what a Port-A-Cath looks like BEFORE insertion:
The image below is what a Port-A-Cath looks like AFTER insertion (so no strapless dresses for me for the next 4 months). Heck, I’m still eagerly awaiting the day that I can put a sweater over my head. The things I took for granted….I am acutely aware of now (SL!).
Either The Husband or I will post after I am out of the procedure.