Hepatic Artery Infusion Pump Placement: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

A hepatic artery infusion pump is a way to put chemotherapy medicine directly into the liver. The pump is used to treat colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver. The pump is a small metal container that holds medicine. A thin, plastic tube called a catheter carries medicine from the pump into a blood vessel that goes to your liver. The blood vessel is called the hepatic artery. The doctor made a cut (incision) in the right side of your belly to put the pump under your skin.

The incision may be sore at first. Your belly may be sore and swollen where the pump and the catheter were placed. This usually gets better in 1 to 4 weeks. You will probably need to take at least 2 to 6 weeks off work.

You will probably be able to see or feel the shape of the pump under your skin. With time, you may not feel the pump as much. It may be more comfortable to wear loose clothing over the pump while you are getting used to it.

Your doctor probably will fill your pump with chemotherapy medicine at your first follow-up visit. The pump probably will need to be refilled every 2 to 4 weeks. Your doctor will give you information about your pump and how often you will need to have it refilled.

The pump will release medicine at a set rate. An increase in your body temperature can make the pump release medicine at a faster rate. This can cause your liver to get too much medicine at once. So it is important to avoid strenuous activity, hot tubs, and other things that may raise your body temperature.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Try not to bend or twist at the waist a lot. These movements can cause the catheter to come loose.
  • Check with your doctor before you use a hot tub, sauna, steam room, tanning bed, or other things that may raise your body temperature. Do not place a heating pad on your stomach.
  • Hold a pillow over your incision when you cough or take deep breaths. This will support your belly and decrease your pain.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You will probably need to take at least 2 to 6 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
  • You may shower, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incision dry. Do not take a bath until your doctor tells you it is okay.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • If you have strips of tape on the incision, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
  • Keep the area clean and dry.

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

When should you call for help?

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

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.
  • You have severe belly pain.

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

  • You are sick to your stomach or cannot keep fluids down.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have a fever over 38°C.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your incision.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, or groin.
    • A fever.
  • You have any problems with your pump.

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

  • You do not have a bowel movement after taking a laxative.

Where can you learn more?

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

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Current as of: July 26, 2016