Portacath removal is usually accomplished by a simple outpatient procedure that rarely takes longer than thirty minutes. Most frequently it is performed when a course of treatment has proven successful and the device is no longer needed. They provide access for intravenous treatments such as chemotherapy, antibiotics, blood products and other drugs. It can also be employed for the frequent collection of blood samples or provide access for dialysis for patients whose kidneys have failed.
Is removal a serious surgery?
Portacath removal and insertion can both be accomplished on an outpatient basis employing local anesthetic. Insertion is made with a large-bore needle in a vein in the chest or arm. Sometimes the jugular vein is chosen. The needle inserts a catheter which is attached to a plug at the end. The entire assembly is sub-cutaneous and leaves only a slight bump on the skin as an indication of its presence. When medicine or blood needs to be delivered a needle can be inserted through the plug to access the catheter. IV-drips can also be attached so the device is useful for feeding patients who can no longer eat. Some drugs also require dilution before injection into the circulatory system.
When does a Portacath need to be removed?
Portacath removal is necessary when treatment is completed or if the device malfunctions or becomes clogged. The same area incised for the original insertion is cut for removal of the device. The portacath is then freed from surrounding tissue by dissection and the catheter is removed from the vein. The entire procedure only takes about thirty minutes. When you arrive for surgery, you will be taken to pre-op and your vital signs will be checked.
What to expect when having a Portacath removed?
In the operating room you will lie on the operating table and an anesthetic will be administered. When the drug has taken effect, the surgery is performed. Afterwards, you go to a recovery room where you will wait for about an hour to be sure the portacath removal site is stable and to allow time for the anesthetic to wear off.
You may be a bit groggy for awhile, so it is best not to drive yourself home. However, there are no other restrictions on activity or diet after your surgery for portacath removal. You will need to make sure that there is no bleeding and that you feel fine except for some localized pain from the surgery and feeling a little shaky from the anesthetic.
An ice pack may be administered for a time to reduce any swelling. You may choose to take over-the-counter medications but you will usually be offered prescription for a narcotic pain reliever in case you need it after the anesthetic has thoroughly metabolized. After 24 hours you may remove the bandage and shower as normal. If there is any seepage around the site, reapply a bandage. There may be “Steri-strips” beneath the bandage and these should be allowed to remain until they fall off by themselves in a week or ten days. You should avoid any strenuous activity and contact your physician immediately if there is any sign of infection.
Why is Portacath Catheter Good and Advisable?