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Implanted Port in Children: Care Instructions

Location of an implanted port in the chest, with detail of the port under the skin

Overview

An implanted port is a device placed, in most cases, under the skin of your child's chest below the collarbone. The port is about the size of a quarter, but thicker. A thin, flexible tube called a catheter runs from the port into a large vein.

The centre of the port has a soft membrane, called a septum. A nurse uses a needle to put medicine and fluids, or chemotherapy for cancer, through the septum into the catheter. Doctors and nurses can sometimes take blood for tests through the port. An implanted port can be used for months. A special needle (called a Huber needle) may stay in the port for a short time. The port and catheter need regular care to make sure that they don't get blocked. Regular care can also help avoid infections near the port.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • After the port is inserted, have your child take it easy for about 1 day. Your child will be able to return to normal activities shortly after. How soon depends on how your child feels, what types of activities your child does, and why the port is needed.
  • Talk to the doctor about any limits on your child's activity. Your child probably will be able to bathe and swim. But your child may need to avoid some activities if a Huber needle is left in the port.
  • Don't let your child wear anything tight (like a sports bra, suspenders, or a backpack strap) that irritates the skin near the port.
  • Have your child carry a medical alert card in a safe place. Your child will get a card with information about the port. It will tell health care workers about the port in case your child needs emergency care.
  • Make sure to go to all follow-up appointments. A nurse or other health professional will flush the port to keep it open.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the site.
    • Pus or blood draining from the site.
    • A fever or chills.
  • Your child has pain or swelling in the neck or the arm near the port.

Watch closely for any changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have any problems with your child's port.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter I175 in the search box to learn more about "Implanted Port in Children: Care Instructions".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.