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Central venous catheters - ports

Central venous catheter - subcutaneous; Port-a-Cath; InfusaPort; PasPort; Subclavian port; Medi - port; Central venous line - port

A central venous catheter is a tube that goes into a vein in your arm or chest and ends at the right side of your heart (right atrium).

If the catheter is in your chest, sometimes it is attached to a device called a port that will be under your skin. The port and catheter are put in place in a minor surgery.

The catheter helps carry nutrients and medicine into your body. It will also be used to take blood when you need to have blood tests. Having a port attached to your catheter will cause less wear and tear on your veins than just having the catheter.

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Central venous catheter

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What is the Purpose of a Central Venous Catheter and Port?

Central venous catheters with ports are used when you need treatment over a long period of time. For example, you may need:

Or you may be receiving:

Your health care provider will talk with you about other methods for receiving medicine and fluids into a vein and will help you decide which one is best for you.

Placing the Port

A port is placed under your skin in a minor surgery. Most ports are placed in the chest. But they may also be placed in the arm.

You can go home after your port is placed.

Taking Care of and Using Your Port

Your port has 3 parts.

To get medicine or nutrition through your port, a trained provider will stick a special needle through your skin and the silicone top and into the portal. A numbing cream can be used on your skin to decrease the pain of the needle stick.

When your port is not being used, you can bathe or swim, as long as your doctor says you are ready for activity. Check with your provider if you plan to do any contact sports, such as soccer and football.

Nothing will stick out of your skin when your port is not being used. This decreases your chance of infection.

About once a month, you will need to have your port flushed to help prevent clots. To do this, your provider will use a special solution.

Ports can be used for a long time. When you no longer need your port, your provider will remove it.

When to Call the Doctor

Tell your provider right away if you notice any signs of infection, such as:

References

Dixon RG. Subcutaneous ports. In: Mauro MA, Murphy KPJ, Thomson KR, Venbrux AC, Morgan RA, eds. Image-Guided Interventions. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 85.

James D. Central venous catheter insertion. In: Fowler GC, ed. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 228.

Witt SH, Carr CM, Krywko DM. Indwelling vascular access devices: emergency access and management. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 24.

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Review Date: 5/30/2020  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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