It has been recommended that you have a “port” placed. This handout explains some of the
common questions patients have about the procedure and the care of the port.
What is a port?
A port is a device that allows an easy and reliable
way to give medicine into the veins and take blood
samples from the veins.
It is implanted under the chest skin. It is about a
half inch thick and about the size of a quarter. You
can feel its raised center under your skin. A
flexible piece of tubing (catheter) is connected to
it. This is tunneled under the skin to an area near
the neck where it enters a vein.
The center of the port is made of a tough, self-sealing, rubber-like material that can be punctured
through the chest skin with a special needle many times. Each time it will reseal instantly.
Why do I need a port?
Since you may need frequent intravenous (IV) medicines or blood draws, your healthcare
provider has ordered a port for you. Patients who have ports often say that they are relieved that
they do not have to be poked over and over to find a good vein.
Because the port is implanted under the skin it is not very noticeable. Once it has healed, it
needs little care from you. People like the fact that they can go on with their normal daily
routines (including showering and swimming) without worrying about the port.
What are the risks?
Once the port is in place and healed, there is very little chance of infection. There is a
risk of infection until the port heals. You will be told how to prevent infection until the
port is healed.
Another time the port is at risk for infection is when the port is “accessed”. This is when
a trained person inserts the proper needle into the middle rubber portion of the port. Only
a healthcare provider experienced in port care should do this.
Because a small incision will be made in the chest skin there is a chance of bleeding in
the form of bruising or oozing of blood from the incision. Laboratory work will be done
before the port is placed to make sure that your blood clots properly so there is no
concern about too much bleeding.
How do I prepare for the port procedure?
1. A Nurse from the Interventional Radiology Department will call you to review this
information with you. Please tell the Nurse if you take blood thinners, are allergic to
anything, or are pregnant.
2. Do not eat anything for 6 hours before the port insertion. You may have clear liquids such as
clear juices or black coffee up until 4 hours before the insertion.
3. In general, you may take your normal morning medicines with a sip of water.
4. On the day of the procedure, women are asked to wear the type of bra that they normally
wear. A nurse will mark where your bra strap lays so that the port can be inserted in an area
where the bra strap will not rub.
5. Because you will only need to take off your clothes from the waist up, you should wear
comfortable bottom clothing and a top that is easy to take off.
6. You must have someone with you to drive you home after the procedure. After receiving
sedation for the procedure, you should not drive or make important personal or business
decisions until the next day.
How is the port inserted?
Before the procedure, labs will be drawn and an intravenous line (IV) will be placed in your arm.
The IV will be used to give you an antibiotic, a sedative or medicine to help you relax, and pain
You will be taken to the radiology suite where a technologist will wash your upper right or left
chest and neck with a special soap. To reduce the risk of infection, your chest, neck, and head
will be covered with a sterile drape. The drape is made into a tent so that it does not lie on your
face. To keep you cool, fresh air is circulated under the drape through a piece of tubing. The
drape is cut open so that you can see out from under it.
Once you are ready for the procedure, the nurse will begin to give you the sedative and pain
medicine in your IV. The radiologist will also inject a local numbing medicine under the skin.
This burns for a few seconds but then the skin will be numb.
The radiologist will insert a small tube into the vein in your neck. Then, a small pocket will be
made under your chest skin about 2-3 inches below your collarbone. The port will fit into the
pocket. After that, the tubing that is connected to the port is tunneled under the chest skin so that
it enters the neck vein. All of this is done under the guidance of fluoroscopy (real time x-ray
seen on a TV screen).
Once everything is in place the port pocket will
be closed with a sterile surgical glue. Sometimes
stitches are used, too. The neck site will be
closed with special tape.
You will need to return in 7 – 10 days to have
the port site checked (if you have stitches, these
will be removed). An appointment will be set
up for you before you leave.
After the procedure you will recover for about 2
hours. Your heart rate and breathing will be
watched. The port site will be checked often to
make sure that you don’t have too much
Once you have recovered, your driver can take you home to rest.
How do I care for the port?
ξ Keep the port site dry until after the appointment to have the site checked in our clinic 7 – 10
days after the placement. You can use saran wrap and tape to cover the site for showering.
This will prevent infection until the port is healed.
ξ Keep a dressing over the port site for the first 3 days. After that, the dressing should be
removed. Do not do anything special to the site except keep it open to air and dry.
ξ You should have little pain. At home, over-the-counter medicines that you take for aches
and pains can be used if you have discomfort at the port site.
ξ Women should wear a bra during the day.
ξ Check the port site for signs of infection:
o Extreme redness
o Pus drainage
o Extreme pain/tenderness
o Extreme warmth at the site
ξ Once the port has healed and is not being used regularly it will need to be flushed every
month so that it does not clot off. This should be arranged with the clinic that used your port
for treatments or blood draws.
When should I call the Clinic?
Please call if you have:
ξ questions about the care of the port.
ξ any of the above signs of infection.
ξ excessive bleeding/swelling.
ξ fever above 101 θ F for 2 separate readings taken 4 hours apart.
Interventional Radiology Clinic, Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m, (608) 263-9729,
After hours, weekends, and holidays, please call (608) 262-2122. This will give you the paging
operator. Ask for the Interventional Radiology Resident on call. Give the operator your name
and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live far away you may use our toll free number: 1-800-323-8942.
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 ©11/2015. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5958.