A portacath is medical device that is used to ease the administering of chemotherapy and there is little risk of complications. A portacath eliminates the need for inserting IV’s repeatedly and the risk of the chemo drugs burning the skin. It can also be used to draw blood which reduces the number of needle sticks for a cancer patient. There are some complications that can occur when a cancer patient has a portacath. Since cancer patients have a lowered immune system, it is important to prevent complications and treat them promptly if they occur.

What A Some Insertion Complications

One of the complications that can occur during a portacath insertion is infection. This can be serious for a cancer patient whose white blood cell counts are usually low. A MRSA infection can be a very serious infection for someone who has a portacath. Extra care will be needed to avoid any kind of infection. Other portacath complications include the following:

  • Excessive blood loss
  • Damage to vein
  • Bruising
  • Hematoma

Modern imaging allows for accurate and safe insertion of the portacath. Some patients may be allergic to the imaging dyes. There may also be an allergic reaction to medications used during the procedure. Allergic reactions are not common.

Preventing These Complications

When having a portacath inserted, it is important that whoever is performing the procedure has experience during the surgery. Proper sanitization and hand washing procedure will need to be followed. The patient should do what they can have their immune system as strong as possible before the procedure. After the surgery, proper nutrition and following the doctor’s instructions will encourage prompt healing and reduce the risks of having portacath insertion complications.

Making sure your doctor is aware of your medical history and any allergies that you may have will also prevent complications of a portacath insertion.

How About Complication After Insertion

Once the portacath is inserted, some patients may experience complications. They may occur immediately or they may occur after months of use. Some of the complications include the following:

  • Blockage (clot or tissue growth)
  • Infection at site
  • Chemical (chemo drug) irritation
  • Portacath infection

With proper administration of medication when using the port, flushing afterwards, and monitoring of the portacath, complications after insertion are reduced.

Portacath Brand Names

A portacath is also known as a totally implantable venous access system (TIVAS). These are some of the brand names for a portacath: Port-a-Cath, Microport, Bardport, PowerPort, Passport, Infuse-a-Port, Medi-Port and Lifesite.


A portacath has a portal (reservoir) with a silicone bubble for needle insertion (the septum). There is a catheter (tube) that is attached to the portal and runs inside the vein. It is surgically inserted under the skin in the upper chest or in the arm and can be done as an outpatient. A portacath is a safe way to administer medication and to draw blood with minimal portacath insertion complication. The benefit to the patient is that it reduces the need for multiple sticks to be administered.