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A chemoport or chemotherapy port is a type of implant placed under the skin of the patients undergoing intravenous chemotherapy treatment. It is a small device that enables easy access to the bloodstream. It is primarily used to transfer red blood cells and platelets. Besides, the chemoport can be used to insert chemotherapy drugs into the blood.
There are different types of chemoport that vary with the length and type of the treatment.
Implantable Venous Access Port
Also called Port-a-Cath or Medi-port (terminologies coined by American Cancer Society), the port is drum shaped and can be made of stainless steel, titanium or plastic. The venous access port is generally placed under the skin of the chest or the upper arm. The catheter attached with the port is directly connected with the central vein.
Long term chemotherapy treatment requires this kind of port, which is used by injecting a non-coring needle through the skin inside the port. A non-coring needle is a specially designed needle that is more resilient than ordinary needles.
Tunneled Central Venous Catheter
Also called Hickman or Broviac, the central venous catheter is placed in a central vein in the chest through surgery. The tubes of the catheter hang externally and the medicines are filled in the tubes. The catheter has multiple openings and is placed inside the body for several months.
The PICC line is a temporary port made of plastic. It is in the shape of a catheter and can be positioned for several weeks. Generally used for short infusions of chemotherapy, the plastic catheter is placed into one of thelarger veins of the arm. The right positioning of the port is confirmed by an X-ray (Fluroscopy).
This is a type of port used in intraperitoneal chemotherapy (the most advanced form of chemotherapy used to treat abdominal cancer). The port is in the form of a catheter called Tenckhoff catheter, which is positioned in the abdomen.
It is a small device that enables easy access to the bloodstream (especially in the case of chemotherapy)
Insertion of chemoport is a minor procedure and only requires half a day.
First, the doctor examines the medical history of the patient thoroughly after which, the latter is subjected to a blood test to measure the blood count and detect if there is any clot. The patient is asked not to take any anti platelet medicines like aspirin or clopidogrel, or any blood thinning medicines like warf or arin (if the patient is taking any). However, if the patient has coronary stems or metal heart valves, such medication cannot be discontinued even for a short time. In such cases the doctor follows some alternative means.
The patient is not allowed to eat or drink anything except water for six hours before the insertion. He/she can drink water till two hours before the procedure.
The patient should have at least one family member or friend with him/her in the hospital during the procedure and should arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time.
The insertion procedure depends on the type of chemoport (or catheter) that is being used. Besides, there are some other factors, too that are taken under consideration. They include the type and duration of the cancer treatment, the malignancy of the tumor, and also the cost.
There are a few risks associated with the insertion of chemotherapy ports.