The Pros and Cons of having a Port

 

In an outpatient procedure a few days before my first chemo appointment, I had a power port implanted on the left side of my upper chest. This quarter-sized port helps chemo drip smoothly because it connects a catheter to one of the central veins leading through my body.

Why is this a big deal? It means chemo drugs can be quickly and safely delivered into my bloodstream—and I didn’t need to get my arm pricked with new IVs at every infusion.

Are you wondering whether you or your loved one should get a port for chemotherapy? Here are a few pros and cons based on my experiences over three years of chemo and pre-op testing:

Disclaimer: These are my tips and suggestions as a patient, not as a clinician. Please consult your doctor when making a decision.

Port Pros

  1. It Speeds Up Chemo Infusions

Oncology nurses are skilled at quickly inserting the special Huber needles into the port, which hook up to the IV chemo drugs.

  1. No More IV Bruises

Because my veins are tiny, before I got my port, nurses struggled to find veins on my arms and I dealt with lots of bruises from failed attempts.

  1. Less Pain

About 90 minutes before my infusion appointments, I use a  lidocaine cream to numb the skin above my port. I liberally apply it with cotton balls and then cover it with clear plastic wrap. Nurses clean the area, and one pinprick later, the needle is in.

  1. It Can Stay In As Long As You Need Treatment

With a port, you can bathe, swim, and generally perform whatever activities you feel well enough for.

  1. It Can Be Used for Other Therapies

My port allows for quick blood draws. It also allows me to have an MRI with contrast without another pesky IV.

Port Cons:

  1. One More Procedure, One More Scar
  1. It Looks Awkward Poking Out of Your Skin

My port looks like a black-and-blue tiny quail egg-sized bruise sticking out of my skin. For the first year, I’d wear clothes that covered the port, and this helped with my self-confidence. After a while though, I no longer cared and now just wear whatever I want. Once in a while, someone will ask about it, and I’m ok with that.

  1. It Gets In the Way Of Seat Belts

You can purchase a fuzzy seat-belt cover for driving that way the belt doesn’t rub against the port. This is a simple solution.

  1. It Can Malfunction or Break

In the three years since placement, I have not had any issues.

The decision is obviously yours and your doctor’s; however, for me, the convenience—and relief from more discomfort—the port provides during my treatment easily outweigh the negatives.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *