UKNOW’s Docs Procedures Port-a-cath

What is a Port?

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A port, also called a port-acath is used by doctors and nurses to give your body medicine or blood, or it can also be used for bloodwork (to learn more about blood work, go to the ?What Am I Having?? section). The port is placed under your skin in your chest while you are having a special sleep from the hospital sleeping medicine.

There may be a small bump where the port is placed. If you didn’t have a port, your arms and hands would get many needle pokes when putting IV?s in ( to learn more about IV?s go to the ?What Is That?” Section).

Many hospitals have special creams (often called Emla cream) that you can put on top of your skin where the port is, so when the nurses have to poke your port, you won’t feel too much of the pinch from the needle. If you have a port, you should still be able to do all your regular activities such as swimming and having showers. It is always best to ask the doctor and nurse just to make sure.

Why do I need to get a Port?

You are getting a port because the doctor needs to give you medicine or take blood many times and the port makes this easier for you. If you did not have a port, the medicine or blood would have to go through an IV in your arm or hand, which means that you would have to get an IV every time you came to the hospital for your medicine. Sometimes you have to get the medicine for a few days and the IV may stop working, which would mean you would need to get another IV and that means another needle poke. The port can stay in your body for a long time and can be used many times.
What does a port look like?
The port has a circle shape, is usually made of special material and has a soft centre. It also has a skinny tube attached to it that takes the medicine or blood from the port and puts it into your blood stream.

What happens when I get a Port?

A porter will come to bring you to the operating room (OR). This is where you will meet the surgeon (the doctor doing the operation), the anesthetist (the ?sleepy medicine? doctor who gives you the special sleep medicine to help you go to sleep so that you do not hear, see or feel anything during the operation) and a nurse. The nurse will greet you and explain what will happen. Click here to read about all the steps in ?What happens In The OR??.

The nurse will give you a gown to wear, this looks like a backward housecoat, you may already be wearing one. The nurse will help you to get on the bed. She will also tell you how to lay down on the bed. The nurse will put a blanket over you to keep you warm and make sure you are covered.

It is important to remember to relax and lie still. During the operation you will be asleep; you will not hear, see or feel anything. When it is over, you will rest for a little while and then you will be brought back to your room.

What will the Port feel like?

During the operation, you will not feel anything. The sleep medicine doctor will give you special medicine to help you go to sleep. This is a different kind of sleep than what you do in your own bed at home. To learn more about getting sleep medicine click on ?What Happens in the OR??.

When you wake up, you will have a bandage over the area where the doctors put the port. There are different spots where the port can go. The doctor will let you know before going to the operating room where the port will go on your body.

Preparing for the Operation

Your nurse will give you the information you need to help you get ready to have your operation to get your port. You will not be able to eat or drink anything before the operation because you will be getting sleep medicine.

If your hospital has a child life specialist, they will also be able to help prepare you for having the port operation.

If you have any questions about the operation, always ask!

Check out this brochure about a port a cath from CHEO

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