A Mediport is a small appliance that is installed beneath your skin. It is connected to one of your veins by a catheter, usually your jugular or subclavian vein. Under your skin, the port has a silicone bubble for needle insertion what is known as a “septum.” Through this septum, a doctor will be able to inject drugs and draw frequent blood samples without causing as much discomfort using other methods.
Who Uses A Mediport?
Oncology (the study of cancer) and hematology (the study of blood) patients are usually the biggest users of Mediports. These are patients with diseases and cancers like:
- Iron-Deficiency Anemia
- Sickle-Cell Disease
How Does It Work?
A Mediport is surgically inserted under the skin of your upper chest or in your arm. To an outside viewer, it looks like a bump under your skin. It is completely internal and requires no special maintenance. Because it culminates just upstream of the right atrium of your heart, it’s position allows substances that are injected to go into your bloodstream quickly and fully.
Placing The Mediport
The Mediport placement procedure is minimally invasive. You will receive only local anesthesia, pain management medication, and some sedation for the Mediport placement. You will be given two incisions that are necessary to put the Mediport in its place. The smaller incision your doctor will make is in your neck. This incision is about half an inch long. The other incision will be in your chest, and it is about three inches long. Both incisions will be closed with stitches, surgical glue, or both.
It will take you about a week to fully recover from the symptoms of bruising, swelling, and tenderness caused in the spot your Mediport was inserted will take about a week. Taking Advil and Tylenol for relief from the pain symptoms is recommended.
Leave the dressing in place for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove the dressing over the stitches. Clean around your incision with a wrung out soapy washcloth. Avoid washing the incision itself, just carefully and gently wash the skin surrounding the incision. Pat the area dry. Do not scrub your skin under any circumstances. Apply fresh gauzed dressing after cleaning. Replace this gauze every day for one week. Keep the healing areas dry and avoid getting it wet during showers. Bathing should be avoided until your doctor says it’s okay (probably about 15 days). If your incisions are closed with surgical glue instead of sutured with stitches, you will be able to leave your scar to heal in the open air. You will have to pat clean the area with soap and water daily. You don’t have to cover the glued sights during bathing or showering. These sites can get slightly wet but do not immerse them in water unless your doctor has given you permission.
Risks Involved with Mediport Placement
Many different risks and complications can occur from Mediport placement surgery.
- Age – Placing a Mediport in a growing child means the catheter will become shorter as they grow, moving away from the area it needs to be. Because of this, it will likely have to be removed or replaced sooner than expected.
- Arterial Injury – The subclavian artery can be punctured accidentally in the process of Mediport insertion. This will cause a what is called a “subcutaneous hematoma.” A subcutaneous hematoma happens when blood leaks into somewhere it doesn’t belong beneath your skin. You end up with a collection of clotted blood outside a blood vessel, or you could end up with what is known as a “pseudoaneurysm,” or a hematoma that forms as a result of a leaking hole in the artery.
- Infection – If you get a severe bacterial infection, it could compromise the device, requiring its surgical removal and seriously jeopardize your already weak health.
- Mechanical Failure – This is unlikely, but it is possible that in a rare occurrence part of the Mediport device’s system could break (usually the attached catheter) and become lodged in your circulatory system. If this were to happen, it is unlikely to cause serious harm, but intervention surgery would be required to withdraw the Mediport.
- Pneumothorax: This also known as a “collapsed lung.” It occurs when the doctors are attempting to get access to your subclavian or jugular vein accidentally injure your lung by letting too much air into your chest cavity. If your pneumothorax is big enough, you may need to have a chest tube placed.However, if you are being taken care of by a surgeon with skilled hands, the chance of this happening is 1%.
- Thrombosis – This occurs when the formation of a blood clot in the catheter blocks the device. To prevent this clotting, the port is flushed with saline and heparin by a nurse or medical professional. You or a properly trained family member can also do this. It should be done at least once every four weeks.
If you experience tenderness, more redness, and pain, swelling, or bruising at your incision sites, call your doctor. If you experience fever, chills, or increased bleeding and draining from your incisions, you should report those problems to your physician.
Although there are some risks, if you suffer from a hematological or oncological disease, your possible benefits may outweigh the risks. Consult with your doctor about Mediport placement to see if it is something you could use.
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