Why does my child need an implanted port?
Your child’s treatment plan requires regular IV medicine and/or blood samples. An implanted port can make your child’s treatment easier because it provides more reliable IV access. The port can stay in for as long as your child’s doctor feels it is needed. With the proper care, the port can stay in for several months or years.
What is an implanted port?
An implanted port is a small disk shaped device about the size of a nickel or quarter that has two parts: the port and the catheter (see figure 1). A surgeon will place the port during a brief procedure in the operating room. The port is inserted under the skin and has a raised center called the septum made of a silicone material. The center of the port (septum) is where a needle can be inserted to access the port and deliver medicines, IV fluids, or to obtain blood for laboratory studies. The catheter portion is a small flexible tube that is attached to the port and placed into a large vein.
The port will look and feel like a small bump under the skin (see figure 2) and is most frequently placed in the upper chest area.
How is the port cared for?
After the surgeon places the port, it will be covered with a bandage. There will be also be a small incision (surgical cut) in the skin where the port was inserted. This area will be closed with internal stitches and covered with small adhesive strips called Steri-Strips®. As the incision heals, the Steri-Strips will fall off, usually in seven to 10 days.
Your child should wait 48 hours before he or she gets the area wet. After that, you should keep the area clean with soap and water and dry completely. Do not submerge the area in water, such as a bath or a pool, for seven days or at any time that the port has a needle in place. Your child might find it helpful to wear loose clothing for several days after the surgery to keep pressure off the area where the port was placed.
If medicine needs to be given or blood drawn, a small needle called a Huber needle is inserted through the skin and into the port. This is a special needle that does not leave a hole in the port (see figure 3) and is the only needle to be used for the port.
This allows the port to be accessed many times without damage. Numbing cream can be applied to the skin before the needle is placed to ease discomfort. Your doctor will give you a prescription for this cream to fill at a local pharmacy.
After the port is accessed, a transparent dressing will be placed over the needle to hold it in place and protect the insertion site from infection. Once the medication is given, or blood drawn, the needle and dressing can be removed. If your child’s treatment lasts several days, the needle and dressing will stay in place, but will need to be changed once a week to prevent infection.
If your child’s port is not being regularly used, it will need to be flushed once a month with a heparin solution. This will keep the port from being clotted with blood. This is usually done when your child comes in for an office visit.
It is very important to prevent an infection, which might require the port to be removed. Good hand washing is a must for your child and for any person caring for your child.
Your child can resume all activities once the insertion site has healed. Check with the doctor about any restrictions on contact sports.
Protect skin over the port. It may be helpful to adjust things such as bra straps and seatbelts to prevent pressure on the port.
Call your child’s doctor if you notice any of the following:
- Fever of 100.4 F or higher
- Pain/redness/heat around the port
- Pus or fluid coming from the incision
- Trouble breathing
- Swelling or a growing bruise at the site
- Chest pain
- Dizziness when the port is flushed
- American Society of Clinical Oncology: Catheters and ports in cancer Treatment.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthcare-associated infections (HAI)
© Copyright 1995-2017 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.
This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 6/12/2015…#15825