Port-A-Cath Insertion

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:

Port-A-Cath Examples Prior to Insertion (http://www.tirgan.com/portacat.htm)

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.

Leave a comment


  1. Edah Mohamed Noor says

    I just had the operation to remove the 'dark' image that was seen on my Mammogram. I was told now that the Cancer Cells were of 'high Grade'. I don't know much about breast Cancer, but I do my mammogram every year. Now I have to go for Chemo and Radio therapy. I still confuse !

  2. Malena Pulido says

    Thank You for You helpful comments. I had mastectomy on january and since march I am in Químio. I have not hair at all. I'been through all the steps You mentioned here. I'll be following You.

  3. Kathy Harrington says

    I just came across your blog, wishing I had a year ago… I had my first chemo on this day of your port insertion… Reading this brings back many memories… some bad, but mostly good for all of the SL I have had this past year. I just finished my Herceptin on December 9, 2011, and had my port removed on Dec. 15th. My GREAT Christmas gift this year…and told I am cancer free!… I hope to continue to hear those words in my future check-ups,,,, as I am sure you do too. I have a lot of catching up to read your whole site blog, but I know that I will idetify with so much and enjoy it! Thank you!

    • says

      Thanks so much, Kathy. I can't tell you how much your note means to me! I'm so happy to hear about your great and wonderful news! Absolutely fantastic. Please stay in touch…and happy reading!

  4. cathy pearce says

    love silver lining! my sister gets portacath monday jan 23, 2012 for FBC, chemo begins thurs.
    i can't wait to show her this website, thank you !!