A central venous catheter is a tube that goes into a vein in your chest and ends at your heart.
Sometimes this type of catheter is attached to a device called a port that will be under your skin. The port and catheter are put in place in a minor surgery.
The catheter helps carry nutrients and medicine into your body. It will also be used to take blood when you need to have blood tests. Having a port attached to your catheter will cause less wear and tear on your veins than just having the catheter.
Catheters are used when you need medical treatment over a long period of time. For example, you may need:
Or you may be receiving:
Your doctor will talk with you about other methods for receiving medicine and fluids into a vein and will help you decide which one is best for you. Other methods are:
A port is placed under your skin in a minor surgery. Most ports are placed in the chest, but they may also be placed in the arm.
You can go home after your port is in place.
Your port has 3 parts:
To get medicine or nutrition through your port, a trained nurse or doctor will stick a special needle through your skin and the rubber top and into the portal. A numbing cream can be used on your skin to decrease the pain of the needle stick.
When your port is not being used, you can bathe or swim, as long as your doctor says you are ready for activity. Check with your doctor if you plan to do any contact sports, such as soccer and football.
Nothing will stick out of your skin when your port is not being used. This decreases your chance of infection.
About once a month, you will need to have your port flushed to help prevent clots. To do this, your health care provider will use a special solution.
Ports can be used for a long time. When you no longer need your port, your health care provider will remove it.
If you notice any of these signs of infection, tell your doctor or nurse right away:
Central venous catheter - subcutaneous; Port-a-Cath; InfusaPort, PasPort; Subclavian port; Medi - port; Central venous line - port
Rosovsky RP, Kuter DJ. Central venous catheters: Care and complications In: Chabner BA, Longo DL, eds. Cancer Chemotherapy & Biotherapy: Principles & Practices. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006.
O'Grady NP, Alexander M, Burns LA, et al. 2011 Guidelines for the Prevention of Intravascular Catheter-Related Infections. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. April 2011. Accessed March 5, 2012.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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