CHEST PORT PLACEMENT Q & A
What Is A Chest Port?
A chest port is a small, implantable medical device that allows easy access to the blood stream through a vein to deliver chemotherapy medications. A reservoir and catheter (small, soft tubing) are implanted just under the skin. Trained medical professionals access chest ports with a special needle, called a Huber needle. A Huber needle is bent with a beveled tip, allowing it to safely enter the port without damaging the silicone septum of the chest port.
Why Are Chest Ports Implanted?
By implanting chest ports, chemotherapy medications can be delivered to the body without the need for inserting IVs and needles in the patient for each treatment. Chest ports are more easily accessible, safer, and more efficient than IVs. Many doctors recommend chest ports if the patient will have more than four chemotherapy treatments, or if the chemotherapy drug protocol is too caustic for delivery through the arm or hand. In addition, a chest port may allow the patient to have chemotherapy infusions at home instead of at the hospital or clinic.
Do Chest Ports Have Other Uses?
Chest ports are not only used for chemotherapy. These ports also give blood stream access for transfusions, blood draws, long-term antibiotic use, fluid therapy, and injecting dye for imaging. However, chest ports can only be accessed by a nurse or other medical professional specially trained in ports. Chest ports require a special needle called a Huber needle. Specialized training and experience allow healthcare professionals to accurately assess the size of the Huber needle to use and insert/remove it safely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Chest Ports Patient Education
What Care Is Required to Maintain A Chest Port?
Chest Ports require no special maintenance.
How Are Chest Ports Implanted?
Sometimes, if the patient requires surgery for cancer treatment, the chest port will be implanted during the surgery. If no other surgery is needed, chest port insertion is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure. First, physicians place a small disc under the skin of the upper chest through a small incision. Next, x-ray imaging is used to guide a catheter attached to the port disc into a large vein in the neck, checking that it is properly placed. A resealing rubber center, called the septum, will allow medical technicians, doctors, and nurses access to the port.
Where in The Body Are Chest Ports Implanted?
The chest port is placed under the skin on the upper chest. The catheter connects the chest port to a vein in the neck. The chest port will be about the size of a quarter. While there is a visible bump under the skin, it usually remains hidden under clothing. Bathing and swimming are not affected by the placement of the chest port.
Can Chest Ports Be Removed?
Yes. Chest ports should remain in place until they are no longer needed—weeks, months, or even years. This is different than IVs that need to be inserted and removed each time. When treatment is completed, the chest port can be removed with a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure.
What to Expect with A Chest Port Implant?
After a port is placed, patients will notice a slight protrusion of the skin over the port. During blood draws or chemotherapy infusions, a nurse will insert a Huber needle into the patient’s port in an area called the septum, a resealing rubber center on the port.
As an interventional radiologist who specializes in minimally invasive procedures, Dr. Jilbert Eradat is well-qualified to handle chest port placements. He gives each patient individualized attention. Major insurance plans and Medicare accepted.