Breast Surgery

Port Placement

A port or long term venous access catheter is placed by a surgeon at University Surgeons Associates for chemotherapy, intravenous alimentation or antibiotic therapy.  This allows access to a large central vein with less trauma and discomfort to the patient.  It also decreases the amount of irritation and damage to the veins from the medications.  A port is placed beneath the skin surface, which decreases the risk for infection.  Access is by sticking the port through the skin with a special needle.

A port is a small, round disc made of plastic or metal that is placed under your skin. A catheter connects the port to a large vein, most often in your chest. Your nurse can insert a needle into your port to give you chemotherapy or draw blood. This needle can be left in place for chemotherapy treatments that are given for more than 1 day. Be sure to watch for signs of infection around your port.

what to do before surgery?

  • Preoperative preparation includes blood work, medical evaluation, chest x-ray and an EKG depending on your age and medical condition.
  • After your surgeon reviews with you the potential risks and benefits of the operation, you will need to provide written consent for surgery.
  • Blood transfusion and/or blood products may rarely be needed depending on your condition.
  • It is recommended that you shower with an antibacterial soap the night before or morning of the operation.
  • After midnight the night before the operation, you should not eat or drink anything except medications that your surgeon and/or anesthesiologist has told you to take with a sip of water the morning of surgery.
  • Drugs such as aspirin, blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications (arthritis medications) and large doses of Vitamin E will need to be stopped temporarily for several days to a week prior to surgery.
  • Diet medication or St. John’s Wort should not be used for the two weeks prior to surgery.
  • Quit smoking and arrange for any help you may need at home.

How is a port placement performed?

You will most likely be asked to check into the hospital the morning of your surgery.

  • A port placement is performed under a local or a general anesthesia.  It usually takes less than one hour.
  • A small incision is made at the planned site for the port and a pocket for the port is made.
  • The vein is accessed and the port tubing is threaded into position and checked with fluoroscopy.
  • After the surgeon places and secures the port within the pocket, the small incision is closed.

what should i expect after surgery?

Our goal is for your surgery and recovery to be as comfortable and convenient as possible.  After a port placement, you may experience temporary pain and swelling at the port site.

  • Most Patients are able to engage in light activity while at home after surgery. Patients shower the day after the operation.
  • Post-operative pain is generally mild and patients may require a pain pill or pain medication.
  • Most patients can resume normal activities within a day or two, including driving, walking up stairs, light lifting, and work.
  • You should call and schedule a follow-up appointment within 2 weeks after your operation.

what complications can occur?

Port placement is generally considered extremely safe. As with any operation, there is a risk of a complication. Complications during the operation may include:

  • Bleeding or hematoma
  • Rarely infection of the wound
  • Skin wound separation
  • Pneumothorax (air around the lung)
  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia

when to call your doctor

Be sure to call your physician or surgeon if you develop any of the following symptoms after surgery:

  • Persistent fever over 101 degrees F (39 C)
  • Chills
  • Bleeding
  • Pain that is not relieved by your medications
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • You are unable to eat or drink liquids
  • Persistent cough or shortness of breath
  • Purulent drainage (pus) from the incision
  • Redness surrounding the incision that is worsening or getting bigger

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