Implanted Port: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

You have had a procedure to implant a port. The port looks like a small bump under your skin. A thin, flexible tube called a catheter runs under the skin from the port into a large vein.

You may have the port for weeks, months, or longer. You will be able to get medicine, blood, nutrients, or other fluids with more comfort. The port can be used right away.

You will probably have some discomfort and bruising at the port site. This will go away in a few days.

You may have strips of tape on the cut (incision) the doctor made, or the cut may have been closed with glue. It may be covered with a small bandage.

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 feel better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Avoid arm and upper body movements that may pull on the catheter. These movements include heavy weight lifting and vigorous use of your arms.
  • You will probably need to take 1 day off from work and will be able to return to normal activities shortly after. This depends on the type of work you do, why you have the catheter, and how you feel.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again. Pay special attention when pulling your seat belt across your chest so it doesn't pull out the catheter. It's okay if the seat belt lays over the catheter.

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.

Incision care

  • If you have a bandage, your doctor will tell you when you can remove it. After you remove the bandage, you may shower. Wash the area with soap and 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.
  • If you have strips of tape on the cut (incision) the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.

Other instructions

  • Always carry the medical alert card that your doctor gives you. It contains information about your port. It will tell health care workers you have a port in case you need emergency care.
  • Wear loose clothing over the port for the first 10 to 14 days. When getting dressed, be careful not to rub the port.

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.

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

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness near the port.
    • Red streaks leading from the port.
    • Pus draining from the port.
    • A fever.
  • You have pain or swelling in your neck or arm.
  • You have trouble breathing or chest pain.

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

  • You have any problems with your port.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 27, 2016