Insertion of Port-A-Cath

This is the placement of a long, thin tube into a large blood vessel that carries blood to the heart. The tube is attached to a small drum-like device.

This is the placement of a long, thin tube into a large blood vessel that carries blood to the heart. The tube is attached to a small drum-like device.

This is the placement of a long, thin tube into a large blood vessel that carries blood to the heart. The tube is attached to a small drum-like device. The long, thin tube is known as a central line catheter and the small drum-like device is known as a port. The tip of the catheter is placed very close to the entry of the right side of the heart. It can be used to place medications, nutrition and fluid into the blood. They can also be used to take a sample of blood for testing.

  • The port and part of the central line catheter are placed under the skin of the chest or arm during a minor surgery.
  • Special needles are used to access the port, which has a self-sealing membrane across the top.
  • The central line and port stay in place as long as they are needed. In some cases, such as the development of an infection, they need to be removed before treatment is completed.
  • A central line and port can remain in place for weeks, months or even years.

Repeatedly placing intravenous catheters into the small veins in the hand or arm can cause wear and tear on the veins. This can result in more difficulty getting an intravenous line in veins that have been subject to repeated use. Your healthcare provider may recommend placement of a central line and port to provide continuing access for:

  • Chemotherapy infusions
  • Infusions of intravenous nutrition
  • Frequent or long-term need for intravenous medication(s), such as prolonged antibiotic treatment
  • Home infusion of intravenous medication
  • Intravenous medications that can damage the skin and muscle if they accidently leak outside of a vein

If a central line is recommended, prior to surgery tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before surgery and get clear instructions on what you need to do. These may include:

  • Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners
  • Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before the surgery

If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery.

During your surgery, you will receive medication to keep you comfortable and pain free.

  • Sometimes a central line can be inserted after numbing the skin where the device is going to be placed (topical anesthesia).
  • In certain circumstances, general anesthesia (where you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear or feel anything) may be used.

After surgery, you may have some pain and tenderness at the insertion site. Call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • More pain than anticipated
  • Increased redness or swelling, discharge from the wound
  • Fever
  • Warmth or red streaks around the incision

Your healthcare provider may limit your activity for a few weeks. Pain medication and help at home may be needed while you complete your recovery.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your options. If you decide to have a central line inserted, ask your healthcare provider the following questions.

  • What are the benefits and risks of having a central line?
  • Is one type of central line a better option over the other for me? Why or why not?
  • How long will the procedure take?
  • What symptoms are normal after the procedure? When should I be concerned?
  • Are there any restrictions on my activity after the central line is inserted?
  • What do I need to do to care for the site of my central line?

Prior to discharge, you should understand all home care instructions. This includes symptoms to report before your next appointment, medications and their side effects and follow-up plans. Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home while you recover.


Also known as:

Insertion of Port-A-Cath
Blood Draw
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