The idea of implanting a medical device, like a portacath, can be a little scary to some people. It may seem like an unnecessary procedure, but once the portacath benefits are known, most patents agree to the procedure. It is an outpatient procedure that is commonly done under local anesthetic. It can make treatments for oncology (cancer) and hematology patients easier. There are some disadvantages, but the advantages often outweigh them.
A portacath is used for administering medications, chemotherapy treatment, blood transfusions, blood products, nutrition, and fluids. The portacath is also used to draw blood and in dialysis treatment. There are more benefits to having a portacath than there are disadvantages.
What Are The Benefits
When a patent has a health condition that requires medication be administered through an IV regularly or must have frequent blood draws, a portacath is often inserted. The portacath benefits include the following:
- Almost painless
- Protects veins
- Remain in place for years
- Fewer sticks necessary
- Normal activity is not restricted
Chemotherapy treatment is among the treatments that are easier after a portacath is implanted.
Why Use A Portacath During Cancer Treatment
One of the portacath benefits for a cancer patient is that the portacath will prevent the chemotherapy medication from coming in contact with the skin and causing a burn. Since the immune system is compromised during treatment, the burns may become infected easily. Some cancer patients may need blood transfusion and a portacath will make it easier. Another benefit is that fluids and other medications can be administered more easily during chemo treatment. Patients receiving other types of treatment may also benefit from a portacath.
Hematology patients must have frequent blood draws and transfusions so they also benefit from a portacath being implanted. Minimizing the sticks needed for treatment is one of the main portacath benefits. There is an increase use of portacaths for hemodialysis. Though there are many advantages, there are some disadvantages to using a portacath.
What About The Disadvantages
Usually the portacath will be inserted and used without incident. There may be surgery complication in a small percentage of patients. Other disadvantages to the portacath include the following:
- Blood clots
- Clogging of the port
- Regular flushing required
- Failure of device to function
Proper maintenance and monitoring of the portacath will reduce the risks associated with the insertion and the use of the device. If the portacath gets a MRSA biofilm on the plastic components, it may need to be removed and replaced. If there is an infection, the lymph nodes near where the port is implanted may swell.
The portacath benefits outweigh the disadvantages in most cases so it is commonly used to make the treatment of cancer and blood related diseases less traumatic.