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Port for Chemotherapy
December 2003

Q. My wife is going to have a "port" put in her chest for her Chemotherapy. I have a medical background as a Navy Medical Technician and I would like to know how the port is put in. What is the exact procedure for this? Do they insert the port in a vein? An artery seems to be very dangerous. How about infection? Can you give me information on the procedure, as to how it's done? Are there links to sites that explain in detail this procedure?

A. A "port" is a device which allows intravenous access for an extended period of time, several weeks or longer. They are used to provide medication or nutrition, and also allow blood samples to be taken for laboratory testing.

Chemotherapy is a common situation for a port to be used, as the medicines are too irritating to be given into a small vein. There are several types of ports, most of which are placed subcutaneously (under the skin) and travel several inches before entering a large vein. The devices are placed by a radiologist or other specialist using fluoroscopy to guide proper placement. Infection is a risk, but the infection rate is low when standard precautions are taken.

http://www.radiologyinfo.org/content/interventional/vascular-access.htm

http://www.cancer.org/docroot/eto/content/eto_1_6x_general _questions_and_answers_about_chemotherapy.asp

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