(Hepatic Arterial Infusion Pump)
Your doctor has recommended a
chemotherapy (chemo) plan for the colon
cancer that has spread to your liver. This
handout will explain the pump that delivers
chemo and how to care for yourself after the
pump is placed.
What is an HAI pump?
A hepatic arterial infusion pump is an
implanted device about the size of a hockey
puck. It is designed to give chemo at a
constant rate to the liver. This method
allows for higher doses of chemo to the
liver. Exposure of normal cells to chemo is
reduced, which helps limit some of the side
How does the HAI pump work?
The HAI pump has two chambers, an inner
chamber also called the drug chamber and
the sealed outer chamber that contains an
inert gas. The gas is warmed by the
temperature of the body. This causes the gas
to expand and increase the pressure on the
drug chamber. This pressure causes the
medicine to flow out of the drug chamber. It
then flows through a filter, out of the pump
via a small tube, and to the liver. There are
no batteries in the pump.
How is the HAI pump placed?
The HAI pump is placed during surgery.
The implant is performed under general
anesthesia. An incision is made under the rib
cage for placement of the pump catheter. A
second incision is made on the right or left
side of the abdomen for placement of the
If the gall bladder is still in place, it will be
removed before placement of the pump.
This will prevent irritation of the gall
bladder caused by the chemo.
How is the pump filled?
A doctor will insert a needle through the
skin into the pump. A syringe with chemo
will be attached to the needle. The chemo
will then be injected in the pump.
Is the HAI pump right for you?
Your doctor will decide if an HAI pump is
an option for you based on the extent of the
cancer and your general health. There are
guidelines that you must be willing and able
to follow to be able to use the pump.
ξ For most patients, you must be
willing and able to travel to UW
Hospital every 2 weeks for pump
ξ You must keep all of your scheduled
doctor and lab visits.
ξ You must be able to lie still when the
pump is accessed to avoid leakage of
ξ Watch for signs of a fever. Call your
doctor if you have one. Prolonged
fever can affect the flow rate of the
ξ Do not use a heating pad or hot water
bottle over the pump site, or sit in a
hot tub. The heat will cause the
pump to flow faster.
ξ Carry the Patient ID card at all times
in case of an emergency. Carry the
ID card through airport security.
ξ Avoid contact sports that could result
in a blow to the abdomen.
ξ Avoid scuba diving. The increased
pressure will affect the flow rate of
the pump. You may swim or
ξ Contact your doctor if you are going
to travel by air. The cabin pressure
of the plane may affect pump flow
ξ Inform your doctor if you are visiting
or moving to higher altitude. This
can affect the flow rate of the pump.
How often will the HAI pump be filled?
Your surgeon will fill the pump in the
operating room. The schedule listed below
will be followed for refills:
ξ 24 – 48 hours before discharge from
the hospital a nurse from the
Oncology Clinic will come to your
room to flush the pump.
ξ 2 weeks later you will have an
appointment in the Chemo Room of
the Oncology Clinic (Atrium clinic
J3/2). The nurse will empty the
pump, measure the left over liquid,
and refill the pump with heparinized
ξ 2 weeks later (4 weeks after the 1st
pump fill), you will have lab work
and a visit with your oncologist. The
pump will be filled with chemo for
the first time. If you have not fully
recovered from surgery, the start of
chemo may be delayed. If that is the
case, your pump will be filled with
ξ 1 week later you will have lab work
done to check for liver toxicity. This
may be done at a local lab if you live
far from UW Hospital.
ξ 1 week later (2 weeks after the start
of the chemo infusion) you will
return to the Chemo Room for the
pump to be emptied and refilled with
ξ 2 weeks off
ξ Return to the Oncology Clinic for lab
work and a visit with your doctor.
You will restart the 2 weeks on, 2
weeks off chemo cycle.
ξ There may be a time when you and
your doctor feel you need a break
from chemo, or you want to take a
vacation that would interfere with
the schedule outlined above. If this
happens, the pump may be filled
with glycerin which will allow for
pump fills up to every 3 months.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6619