A port-a-cath, most commonly called a “port”, is a small device placed under the skin on the right side of the chest which makes it much easier, safer, and less painful to administer drugs, fluids, and to give or draw blood.
Imagine the port as a small rubber bulb under the skin, connected to a tube which is connected to a vein. When a nurse “accesses” the port, they stick a small needle through the skin, and into the bulb – the needle is connected on the outside of the body to a tube and valve. Once accessed, the needle is covered with dressing to prevent infection, and can remain in place for days or even weeks – This allows the nurse to draw blood, give transfusions and fluids, and administer drugs, by simply connecting tubes to the accessed port. The process is both far easier, safer, and less painful than finding a vein to stick a syringe into many times a day.
Ports are generally installed soon after diagnosis – usually within the first 24-48 hours – and will stay in until end of treatment.
Ports are an alternative to Broviacs, which are still sometimes used.