So You're About to Get Your Port Accessed...
What is a Port?
A Port, short for portacath is a special device that is placed under your skin in your chest and connects to a big vein, so that you can get your medicine more easily. The port is about the size of a quarter and is inserted surgically.
Why is a Port important?
If you have to come to the hospital a lot or stay for a long time before you get better, the doctor may decide to give you a port instead of an IV. With a port the nurses can give you stronger medicine and they can draw blood from the port so you don’t have to get poked for blood work.
What is having a Port like?
• You will have to have surgery to get your port placed under your skin (see surgery preparation)
• When you wake up from surgery you will have a bandage on your chest, this is where your port is under your skin.
• It will feel like a small bump in your chest when you touch it. It may be a little sore for a couple days but after that it should not hurt. Soon you will not even notice it is there.
• When you come to the hospital, the nurses will use the port to get medicine inside your body, this is called accessing your port.
• First they will rub a magic cream called EMLA on your chest where your port is. This cream will numb your skin so that the access will not hurt at all. The cream takes about 30 minutes to work, about the length of a cartoon show.
• After 30 minutes the nurse will come back in and everyone will have to wear a mask to keep germs away.
• Then, the nurse will clean off the EMLA cream and will clean your skin really well.
• The cleaners will feel cold and wet.
• When it is time to access your port the nurse will quickly and gently press a pin into the soft part of your port. This will not hurt because of the numbing medicine but will feel like pressure, like someone pressing their thumb on your chest.
• Then the nurse will place a small, soft pillow between the port pin and your skin.
• Next, the nurse will attach some syringes to your port line. These syringes draw blood and give medicine and will not hurt.
• Last, the nurse will put a big clear sticker over the whole thing to keep it safe and clean.
What is your job during a port access?
• It is your job to stay very still during the port access.
• It is also your job to keep your port area clean
• It is very important to stay close to your IV pole.
What helps during a port access?
• Deep breathing/ blowing bubbles
• Watching or looking away
• Distraction...doing something else
• Singing, counting
• Comfort position with caregiver