What is Chemoport?
A chemoport is an intra-dermal or sub-dermal line or access point made on the chest or arm of patients to assist intravenous (IV) chemotherapy. Chemoport involves placing a device under your skin that gives vascular access for IV therapies and injecting contrast materials for scanning tests. This placement provides easy access to your blood stream.
A chemoport is also termed as mediport, cancer port or port-a-cath. Based on the patient’s requirements and need, your doctor can use different types of chemoports. These types of chemoports vary in their length and treatment type.
The various types of chemoports are as follows:
- Tunneled Central Venous Catheter: As the name suggests, the central venous catheter is placed under the skin of your chest and connected to the central vein using a surgical procedure. The outer part of this port contains a catheter that hangs outside your skin. This catheter has multiple openings. It is placed under your skin for several months.
- Intra-peritoneal Port: This port too contains a form of catheter known as Tenckhoff catheter. This catheter is placed under the skin of your abdomen.
- Implantable Venous Access Point: This port is also referred to as medi-port or Port-a-Cath. It is made up of stainless steel, plastic or titanium. A venous access point is a drum shaped device. It is either placed under the skin of your chest or upper arm. It contains a catheter tube attached to the device that connects the central vein.
- PICC Line: The Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC) line is made up of a plastic material. It is a temporarily used device that looks like a catheter. It is connected to one of the larger veins of your upper arm.
Why is Chemoport Required?
The main reason of implanting a chemoport is to administer chemotherapy drugs into the patient’s blood.
If your chemo therapy is combined with radiotherapy (radiation therapy), double or multiple chemoports can be used for both the purposes, i.e., injecting chemo drugs as well as contrast substance.
Various types of chemoports serve various requirements for cancer patients.
- Tunneled central venous catheter is used to fill in the medicines of chemotherapy through the external pipe (catheter) that directly connects to the central vein of your chest.
- Intra-peritoneal point is required for an advanced type of chemotherapy (also referred to as intra-peritoneal chemotherapy) to treat stomachcancer.
- Implanted venous access point is required for long term chemotherapy process. A non-coring syringe is used to inject chemo drugs through your skin into the catheter tube. A non-coring syringe is specially designed at its tip to allow more resilience compared to the ordinary ones.
- PICC line is usually required if your chemotherapy treatment is of a short duration containing short infusions of chemo drugs.
Chemoport can be implanted as it contains the following benefits:
- Chemoports lower the risks of damage caused to your muscles and tissues.
- It provides multiple access to the veins of your body in order to conduct various types of cancer treatments at the same period of time. Double or multiple ports can be used for simultaneous treatments.
- Chemoports allow your oncologist to frequently collect blood samples of cancer patients without injecting a needle each time. Blood samples are collected through the catheter.
- Chemoports prevent the risks of bleeding. This adds as a plus point to cancer patients who have low platelet count.
- Implanting a chemoport is a very effective method to infuse chemotherapy drugs periodically at the patient’s home.
Preoperative preparations consist of various steps that are important before implanting a chemoport device. Some aspects of your system can cause a bad influence on the chemoport implantation process. Therefore, it is necessary to make proper arrangements before placing a chemoport inside your body.
- Blood Tests
Your doctor will carry out some blood tests in order to determine levels of hemoglobin, white blood cells, blood sugar and blood clotting time. Presence of infections within your body can also be verified using these blood tests. If any of the above abnormal conditions occur within your body, your doctor needs to delay the process of chemoport implantation. First, he/she will treat these health disorders and then proceed with the implants.
- Physical Examination
It is mandatory to conduct a routine physical checkup before the placement of chemoports. This check-up includes monitoring your physical health condition as well as learning about your medical history.
Discuss about all the types of medications you intake on a regular basis. If you consume anti-platelet medications, for example, aspirin, or blood thinning drugs like warfarin, you may be asked to discontinue them for some short period of time until the placement of chemoports. Although, patients who have coronary stems or metallic heart valves cannot discontinue the intake of these medicines even if it is asked for a short duration. For such individuals, oncologists use an alternative method to deal with this issue.
- Deciding Type of Chemoport
Based on your medical history and other health conditions, doctor will decide the best type of chemoport to use for your case of cancer. As mentioned earlier, an intra-peritoneal port is usually used for abdominal cancer patients. Likewise, other types of chemoports can be used based on your health requirements and duration of your chemotherapy. He/she will also decide about the location of implant, i.e., to connect these ports to the veins of your arm or chest.
Your doctor will educate you entirely about the procedure of chemoport fixation. He/she will also mention benefits and risks of this procedure. You are advised to follow all the preoperative instructions before you undergo this implantation. The most important instruction is regarding food and water intake. Patients should avoid eating or drinking any kind of food items for at-least six hours before the fixation process. However, you can drink water two hours before your surgery begins.
Other requisites of preoperative care include time schedule of the implantation process. This schedule mostly depends on what type of chemotherapy one is undergoing. Some patients may require a short infusion whereas some can undergo chemotherapy for longer duration of time. Time of your chemotherapy is dependent on the type, extent, stage and other aspects of your cancer disease as well as the size of your body. Patients will be explained about all these points as well.