I am about to start a 4 month treatment of chemo and have to decide between having a port or subclavin catheter inserted. I am a little confused on what are the pros and cons of each. Can you help shed any light on this? Thank you.
Dear Delynnc, There are 2 major classes of venous access devices that are used to access a large vein such as the subclavian vein for infusion of chemotherapy. A port or port-a-cath, is a device that is surgically placed under the skin usually in the chest. In order to use the port a special needle is inserted through the thin layer of skin that covers the port (patients say this only pinches a little). An external catheter has one or more 6-8 inch tubes which are outside the body and stiched to the skin with sutures (to keep it from falling out). Both the port and external catheter are threaded internally into a large vein. The pros of a port are that it requires little to no maintainence on the part of the patient. An external catheter requires regular cleansing and dressing changes. Most physicians will recommend one or the other depending on the type of treatment being given.
a port, as usually referred to, is a device that's fully under the skin, which means to access it for delivering chemo, a needle is inserted through the skin and into the device. That's the main downside. It's also a bit of a bigger deal putting it in and removing it once treatment is over. Being under the skin, there's no special care of it when not receiving chemo, which is the main upside. A subclavian cathether has a tube or tubes hanging out of the skin below the collarbone. To hook it up to chemo requires no poking of your skin; but it shows more, and requires a bit of care and feeding while it's in you. Both are usually inserted with local anesthetics. There's a bit higher risk of infection from the subclavian because it's in contact with the skin.
I had a port inserted. My Oncologist ordered it. No one told me I had a choice. This is the first time that I have heard about the sub- whatever tub outside the skin.
I had no trouble with my port. I do not think I would like a tube hanging from my neck, or chest. There is a small needle ***** putting port in, but it did not bother me.
Then I had to have mini-surgery to take it out 18 months after I ended chemotherapy.
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