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Posted on 5. February 2015

Is an Infusion Port Right for You?

By Abbie Cornett

Patients treated with intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) whose veins are having trouble supporting an IV frequently ask if I would recommend a port. Many of these patients have damage to their veins from long-term IVIG use and have to be repeatedly stuck before a usable vein is found. It’s not surprising, then, that they are looking for an easier way to receive their treatment.

I faced the decision to have a port installed a number of years ago when I was first diagnosed with common variable immunodeficiency. I had been very sick for a number of years, and my veins were in really bad shape from all the IV steroids and antibiotics I had been treated with. My nurses had to repeatedly stick me before they could find a vein. On the worst day, they tried nine times and then sent me to a chemo center to see if they would have better luck. After 12 attempts, the chemo center staff gave up, and I didn’t get my IVIG treatment that day. When I went back for my infusion, the nurses talked to me about getting a port. My first reaction was: “Absolutely not!” I had a triple lumen multiple times in the past and hated it. The nurses explained that a port is very different and I should do some research, which is what I did. What I found was, like most things, there are pros and cons and, in the end, it is a personal decision.

There are several advantages to a port. A port allows for easy venous access, which helps to save patients’ veins and means fewer needle sticks for patients to endure. It provides immediate access for blood draws, and it allows family members to help with treatment. A port can also reduce administration time for some medications.

But, there are also drawbacks to a port. First, installing a port requires a surgical procedure, which may result in scarring and poses a risk of infection. Because of the infection risk, many doctors will not prescribe a port. If a patient does have a port installed, doctor visitation is required, sterile techniques must be used when accessing it, and when the port is not being used, it requires flushing. If a patient is involved in contact sports, they need to wear padding over the site where the port is located.

If you are considering a port, thoroughly discuss this decision with your physician. It’s a personal decision, and you need to listen to your doctor’s advice, and then decide what is best for you and your lifestyle.

In case you are wondering, I decided against a port for me, and years later, I still feel it was the right decision!

Have you ever considered getting a port?

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Comments (14) -

Deb Konrad
8:33 AM on Friday, February 06, 2015

I have asked my oncologist about getting a port installed...he will not do it because of the potential infection risk.

Linda Carlson
11:02 AM on Friday, February 06, 2015

I opted for a port after 1.5 years of painful IV/IG infusions, to the point where the veins started failing several times during one 6hr treatment. My neurologist was cautious but sent me to a surgeon who specializes in port placement. He said he has patients who have had ports for over 20 yrs with no problems. I have a small Power-Port, he did a great job of placement, I have a minimal scar and it is not readily seen as it is skin-level. I get infusions every 3 wks for two 6hr days so port maintenance is not a problem. It's the smartest decision I've made, no more debilitating pain and stress! Works GREAT for me, have had it 4 yrs now with NO ISSUES, no infection, nothing. From my experience, I highly recommend!

Lynn McGuirk
8:47 AM on Saturday, February 07, 2015

I have had my port for 31/2 years. It has been a blessing. I receive IVIG 2 days every 3 weeks. I have no veins and with out the port it would be an impossible situation.

Diane MacPherson
10:13 AM on Saturday, February 07, 2015

I  had two ports. I had troubles with the first one be cause it was crooked. I get IVIG every other week and have had no problems with the second one. I use numbing cream and have no problems with the IVIG being accessed.

Jes Sharai
8:48 AM on Monday, February 09, 2015

I'm with Linda. I had a Power Port installed three years ago and, for me' it was a wonderful solution to a painful procedure. Stick, roll & blow were the words of the day. And I have ugly red spots and splotches where the IV's were repeatedly put in my hands/arms. Sure does make it much easier!

Diane G.
8:42 PM on Monday, March 16, 2015

I had a port placed one year ago. The year before I struggled with IV insertion every 30 days that I went for IVIG. So painful those IVs. But I gave myself one year until my dr agreed I could have a port. It's so much less stressful now. One hour before infusionIts put numbing cream on and there's zero chance of discomfort with needle placement. The port is wonderful and hope to have it any years before replacement.

Bobbi BOESCH
7:51 AM on Friday, June 19, 2015

After three years of IVIG and seek and fine a vain, I got my port.  Have it for 15months with no problem.  Only wish I had listened to the wonderful nurses that kept advising me to do it sooner.  These ladies and gentlemen really do have your best interest at heart.

Diane galbavy
10:34 AM on Friday, June 19, 2015

Linda, Lynn, Diane and Bobbi: I am glad you have all had positive results with your ports for IVIG delivery. Like you I am so thankful immunglobulin can be an answer for our immune deficiencies. I wish you all the very best enjoying your lives in between infusions. Sincerely Diane Galbavy

Andrea Franke
7:53 AM on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I have been receiving IVIG for the past 3 years, and had a port inserted about 1 year after struggling to find a vein every two weeks. The first port lasted about 3 or 4 months, and had to be replaced because a nurse didn't know what she was doing. The second port lasted a little longer than that, but had to be replaced because of a blockage about 8 months ago. Then a little over 2 months ago i went for my treatment, everything went well for the first while, then I suddenly got the worst fever imaginable with shivers like you wont believe. Ended up spending a week in hospital longer than expected, and the port had to be removed because of infection. I have been port-free for 2 months now, and I am struggling with the choice of getting another one sometime next year, or just leaving it. Having the port made things a lot easier, but I am scared that the complications will continue.

Bobbi Boesch
11:15 AM on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How sad to hear about your port experience, Andrea.  I also had blockage but with the use of a clot buster it finally opened.  Don't know who is inputing your port but think you should look for a doctor that does it a lot.  If I were you, give it one more try with a different surgeon.  May be the placement will be better.  Sure hope so because life is so much easier with the port.  

Diane galbavy
6:38 PM on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Andrea, please try to access a surgeon who places ports very very frequently and who comes highly recommended. And only highly qualified nurses accessing your port that deal with ports On an ongoing daily basis. And of course every 30 days they must be flushed. Let us know how you make out. Hoping you get positive outcome and no more problems. Best to you.

Linda
12:42 PM on Saturday, September 17, 2016

I came to this site to find out if others had considered a port for IVIG infusions. I get them every month, & I Rituxan maintenance infusions every 6 months, once/week. The sticks are in my hands & after 3 yrs of this, my hands are starting to feel as if arthritis is setting in. The veins are not happy supporting repeated sticks over such a long period of time & there's no end in sight. I'm in remission from what's considered an incurable Lymphoma. If I'd known 5.5 yrs ago when I went into remission that I'd go through this treatment--which, make no mistake, I'm thoroughly grateful for--I'd never have had that port removed. But now that I'm faced w/continuing to put my hands through misery or get a port, I've opted for a new one. I'm glad to read the responses here. It's given me heart to go ahead with my decision. Thanks & the best for all!

Diane G
9:46 AM on Monday, September 19, 2016

Linda. I was Dx with lymphocytic leukemia 3 years ago. For the first year I endured " sticks" for ivig that I get ev 4 weeks for life. I waited a year and thought anything is better than that IV every month. Very painful and same symptoms with veins you're having. So after a year I had the radiology department place a port. It has to be flushed every month but I have to go for ivig every month anyway. I know they don't last forever .. Maybe ten years at most. Then I'll have this removed and have another one placed in other side of chest. This time I will ask my surgeon to do it because I'd just rather be out of it rather than hardly out of it as it was with radiologist placement. I am thankful for ivig. I am thankful for a port. And I am thankful for people who give blood for our sakes. And my veins are thankful too. I wish you the very best of luck in all you do.

Amy
6:29 PM on Wednesday, January 03, 2018

My son Mika has an IGg2 subclass deficiency and this month marks his fifth year of IVIG. He has had difficulties where every once in a while his vein would blow out and the nurses would have to stick him again but, his last 3 infusions have been like this. My son is 9-years-old and has always been a trooper about the whole procedure and never uses any numbing agents. His one request is that no one speaks while he is having his IV inserted. The way he reacted during these last few infusions really got me worried that he will want to stop receiving treatments for fear that his veins will keep blowing out. I want to ask his doctor to have a port placed but I’m fearful that he will say no because of previous experiences with him so I wanted to do some research to back my request. Any thoughts or suggestions that would be helpful would be much appreciated. Thank you!

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