What is a Portacath Anyway?

What is a Portacath?

That’s the question Gordon asked me as soon as Dr Jim Coward (the oncologist) left the room to get something.  I vaguely remembered that there was discussion about my  mother having a Portacath when she was going through her Bowel Cancer journey in 2007.

write your cancer portacath

When Dr Coward walked back into the room, we asked the question, “What is a Portacath?”

Dr Coward described it as a device that gets inserted just under the skin so that you don’t have to have your veins subjected to being injected for 6 months. Apparently there is the risk of your veins collapsing.

Wikipedia says, In medicine, a port (or portacath) is a small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_(medical) 

We didn’t think it sounded that bad, so we agreed. These are Gordon’s words the day after it was inserted.

Went into the Mater Hospital yesterday to have a “portacath” or “power port” fitted into my chest. What is a portacath you ask and how do they fit it? Under general anesthesia. They cut you under the arm and physically push the device into place under the skin and fat but on top of the pectoral muscle. Imagine the damage that does as they push it into place. Ouch. I’m so sore it feels like I’ve been stabbed in the chest. Talk about physical torture. They didn’t give me any pain killers either. I have taken some Panamax at home. The “tail” of the device is pushed along under the skin and put into the jugular vein. This is where the chemo is feed into the body.

In hindsight, Dr Coward was right. It was the best option and as of mid December, Gordon says that he doesn’t even feel it anymore.

At the time, especially after that first night when he was in so much pain, we wondered if we had made the right decision….

Tomorrow we go and have an inservice at the hospital to get the run down on exactly what happens during chemo treatment.


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