How does having a port affect my daily life?

Baird Cancer Treatment Port

Many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated needle sticks in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports, so that doctors don’t have to stick you with a needle or restart an IV line every time you need treatment. That makes care easier — and your life easier.

Once you have a port, you may wonder how it will affect your day to day activities. We spoke with Richard Williams, RN, BSN, OCN at Baird Vascular Institute, who said to think of it as you would any medical procedure, “For the first few days, avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous activities.” Williams continued, “There are folks who like to hunt, or play tennis, or even have a job like a hairdresser where their arms move up and down frequently, for those folks we tell them they need to give the site a chance to heal, to let the skin start coming together and heal.”

Williams added, “We do ask people about their lifestyle and take that into consideration when placing the port. We can put the port on a different side if needed. All these things are discussed with the patient because we know they’re going to have this port for awhile.”

You can even travel with a port. Williams added, “If you do go through an airport scanner, it shouldn’t go off because there’s not metal in the port, but you can pull out a card that we’ll give you and show the agent what the ‘bump’ is in your scan.”

If you’d like to learn more about port and the procedure, we have a whole series of YouTube videos on the topic.

We’ll work with you and your health care team to choose the best long-term IV access option for your situation. Give us a call at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options.

 

Port Care 101 – 5 things you need to remember

Many conditions, such as cancer treatment, long-term IV medication or kidney dialysis, require frequent or constant access to your veins. Repeated injections in the same area can be hard on you and hard on your veins. That’s why we specialize in placing vein access ports that make your care, and your life, easier.

There are a few things you should keep in mind if you’ve had a port procedure.

First, make sure to follow all the detailed instructions that were given to you for taking care of the catheter of port.

Secondly, take extra precautions avoid touching the tip of the catheter and always wash your hands before touching the area for bandage changes or cleaning. Also, it is ok to ask the nurse or any medical professional that is accessing your port to wash their hands in front of you and to always wear gloves.

Watch out for any sign of infections like redness or swelling or other issues such as leaks or blockages. Notify your physician immediately if you experience any of those issues.

Don’t be afraid to contact your physician if you have a question. We specialize in placing a wide variety of vein access devices and are here to address your concerns.

Finally – live your life. Having a port is supposed to make your life a little easier while undergoing treatment. With a few modifications, you can expect to resume relatively normal activities during this period of treatment.

What are some clothing options to cover my port?

When considering clothing options during any kind of treatment that requires a port, it’s important to remember not to choose any articles of clothing that bind or restrict excessively, to prevent any damage to the line.

If you want to detract away from the visibility of the port, choose clothing options that are patterned to help camouflage the area. For women, consider fabrics that drape loosely around the neckline, or have pin tucks, gathers or small pleats. For men, a t-shirt worn under a button up shirt helps to smooth out the area.

If you prefer, there are garment manufacturers that make clothing pieces that are attractive, functional and allow for easy access to a variety of port locations. Here are some options that are available online:

The craft and handmade site Etsy features a number of adaptive clothing alternatives via a search of “adaptive clothing for chemo.” Here is one example.

The key is to find clothing that you can feel comfortable and confident wearing, while still keeping the area of the port uncompromised. As with many daily activities a patient with a significant illness encounters, doing what works best for you, while still maintaining comfort is the goal.

How would I know if there was an issue with my port?

During cancer treatment or other health issues, your healthcare team may need frequent access to your veins to give you treatment. To avoid placement of a new IV line for each treatment, or repeated needle sticks to draw blood, your physician may recommend a port (such as a port-a-cath) or other long term IV access.

There are a few potential side effects and risks that should be discussed with your doctor. The risks may include infections, blockages or clots, and other problems that are less common, such as kinks under the skin or a shift in the position of the port.

If you experience any of the following issues, you should contact your physician immediately.

  • You develop a fever
  • Fluid is leaking from the port or area surrounding the port
  • There is bleeding from the area of insertion
  • The surrounding skin becomes swollen, red or warm to the touch
  • It becomes difficult to get liquid into the port
  • You develop uncharacteristic shortness of breath or dizziness
  • The tube outside your body is longer that it was previously

The VCU Baird Vascular Institute provides convenient services if issues arise with your port. We understand how important it is to be close to home when you have health concerns. Our expert physicians specialize in placing port-a-caths, and other IV catheters and are also exceptional at diagnosing and remedying issues with previously placed ports.

Source: http://www.cancer.net

Port patients: Questions to ask your doctor

At BVI, we believe that being an informed patient is key to your health and wellness. So, we’re sharing some questions that we think will make getting a port placement just a little easier.

  • Why are you recommending a catheter or port?
  • What are the risks of a catheter or port?
  • Are there any tests that need to be done prior to placing the port?
  • Will my health insurance cover the costs associated with inserting a catheter or port?
  • What do I need to do before the catheter or port is inserted?
  • Will I feel any pain when the catheter or port is inserted?
  • How long does the procedure take?
  • How long will the catheter or port be left in?
  • How should I care for my catheter or port?
  • Will I be able to see or feel a catheter or port under my skin?
  • Can I wear regular clothes with a catheter or port?
  • Can I bathe and swim with a catheter or port?
  • Can I exercise with a catheter or port?
  • Will a catheter or port interfere with radiation therapy or scans?
  • Whom should I contact if I have problems with my catheter or port?

Source: www.cancer.net

VCU Baird is located just off Interstate 195 in the near West End at 205 N. Hamilton Street. This stand-alone facility brings the expertise of VCU Medical Center to a convenient neighborhood setting complete with easy parking. For more information, please call (804) 828-2600 or email bairdvascularinstitute@mcvh-vcu.edu.

What can I expect from a medication port?

It’s natural to have questions after your doctor prescribes a surgically implanted port for your chemotherapy or intravenous treatments. While this medical device might seem a little strange at first, you’ll soon see that a port can be beneficial during your treatment. A port will make it easier and less painful to receive your medications, and your visits may even become shorter.

A direct connection to a vein
A port is composed of a metal or plastic body and a flexible catheter (tube). It has a self-healing silicon septum (middle) where medication is administered. The port body and catheter are concealed beneath your skin but provide easy access to your larger veins to quickly and safely deliver your medication. The port and catheter are surgically inserted under local anesthetic and conscious sedation . You will be able to go home the same day.

ShoulderwithXportispPorts are placed a few inches below the collarbone for most patients. There will be a bump under the skin where the port is located (your skin covers the port so visually you only see a bump where the port sits). You can bathe and participate in most other activities because of the self-healing septum. This design also helps prevent any infection at the site.

Receiving medication is faster and less painful
There are many benefits to having a port. Here is a short video outlining the benefits of a port: http://bit.ly/1bfLS94

Treatment will be simpler and faster because your port is in place. It may mean less pain and irritation because there’s no need to find a good vein each time you need an IV, blood draw, or other treatment. Also, the port will prevent your medicine from leaking into the skin which sometimes happens with other medication delivery methods. Some ports will even allow you to receive power injections for imaging through your port. Once you have a port, a member of your care team can easily begin your treatment once you arrive for therapy.

As with any surgically inserted medical device, there are some downsides. Some people may develop an infection, scarring, and limits to some activities. Your doctor can explain these effects and, together, you both can decide what is best for your situation.

At the VCU Baird Vascular Institute, we know all about placing and maintaining intravenous ports and how they benefit patients. Ports are placed at Baird Vascular Institute by our expert academic physicians who have extensive training – it is one of the most frequent procedures we perform. BVI is an ideal place, with our friendly, comfortable outpatient environment and without the hassles of dealing with a hospital operating room. For more information, please call (804) 828-2600(804) 828-2600 or email bairdvascularinstitute@mcvh-vcu.edu.