• Chemo ports

    Asked by SandraK on Monday, December 9, 2013

    Chemo ports

    I'm getting a simple (not power port) chemo port implanted Thursday. One of the things that made it seem more bearable was the thought that there would be no weekly needles in my arm for blood tests. Today, the PA told me that the ports really aren't designed for drawing blood, and while sometimes they work that way for some people, most often they don't and blood has to be drawn from a vein in the arm. From our wonderful community here....what has been your experience with ports? Did the nurses still have to draw blood from a vein in the arm or did the port work for you for blood tests?

    52 Answers from the Community

    52 answers
    • MelMom's Avatar
      MelMom

      I have had a port from the beginning and I love having it. No more sticks in the arm. If the port decides to stop up and it can't be cleaned out, they will have to stick the arm. I've seen some people in my treatment facility have to be stuck when their port wouldn't work, but mine always works.

      over 7 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar
      lilymadeline

      OK the person that told you that wasn't clear and didn't give you the correct information. Yes it is easy to draw blood from a port, BUT it does require special training so not all nurses can do it. That means that you have to wait around for a trained chemo nurse to draw blood if your cancer center is short staffed, or you have blood drawn from a vein by a regular nurse or technician. I always had blood drawn from my port when I had one, my experience is that they seemed to want to use the port rather than just use a regular vein. Also, it does hurt a little when the needle goes in the port so please ask for a prescription for the creme that numbs the area. You apply it about 20 minutes prior if I remember correctly. Or there is this great spray that freezes the area, and the nurse just zaps you with the spray a few seconds before accessing the port. The freezer spray worked great on me, so maybe try that first before getting the prescription creme....but I have heard that the spray doesn't work on everyone as well as it did on me. Good luck with this and good luck with your chemo treatments!

      over 7 years ago
    • DebMcD's Avatar
      DebMcD

      I go to a lab corp for my weekly blood draws and they cannot access the port as they are technician not nurses. So I do get poked once a week there, but use the port for the chemo. She said if I wanted to go to the hospital blood draw, they could draw blood through my port.

      over 7 years ago
    • HOBO's Avatar
      HOBO

      I have bard power port. I am scheduled monthly.for.blood draw or.port flush to.Keep it clear. Due.to an invasive phobia, the.port has saved.me from.emotional breakdowns. I do use the lidocaine cream about one hour prior to draw.

      over 7 years ago
    • abrub's Avatar
      abrub

      All my bloods were drawn from my simple port. Ask for Emla cream to smear on it about an hour before chemo, and you won't feel the needle stick. It's a prescription cream and works wonders! Really gob it on thickly and cover with plastic wrap until you get to your clinic.

      over 7 years ago
    • alivenwell's Avatar
      alivenwell

      For me, they used the port for samples and also administering chemo. They also thoroughly flushed the port with a saline solution after each treatment. Ironically, Neulasta (for a low white platelet count) was administered via a shot into my arm (they said it was 'Subcutaneous').

      over 7 years ago
    • glam's Avatar
      glam

      Hey Sandra....here in Chile they also told me not to use my port to draw blood and preserve it only for chemo procedure.....it is not that the port can not be used but they told me it get blocked with more frequency when used for both procedures and it also has a smaller life time.....I believe throughout last year I used my port only two times to draw blood the rest was through my vein.....I guess this is not an inability of the port itself but much more a procedure or standard of my facility....God bless you and continue blessing all of us

      over 7 years ago
    • nicki0920's Avatar
      nicki0920 (Best Answer!)

      It seems that a lot of nurses freak out when they find out you have a port and you want to use it instead of letting them fish for a good vein. They have to call in someone special to access it. They always seem put out about it too.

      There has not been a problem with getting good blood return on mine. I haven't had to endure the port dance that so many on here have described.

      If it is an IV, I insist they access my port. When it comes to a blood draw, I sometimes opt for letting them go for a vein. The butterfly needle is so small, it actually seems faster to me to let them use it instead of my port. The large IV needles and I don't get along since Rituxan has wrecked my veins.

      I have a Bard Power Port. I'm so grateful for it when it comes time for scans. The power port is stout enough that it can withstand the pressure of the dye being injected through it. My last scan before I got my port was a nightmare. It took them 8 tries to hit a vein and thread the IV. I am told that a standard port cannot withstand the pressure though.

      over 7 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar
      karen1956

      Its been several years, but I if I remember correctly, my port was used for blood draws....I'm not sure what a power port it, so I'm guessing that I had a simple port...mine was used for everything....I loved having it, but was happy to have it removed 3 weeks post chemo....

      over 7 years ago
    • dsgriffin's Avatar
      dsgriffin

      Interesting... I thought maybe after getting the port I wouldn't have to get stuck again for blood tests, etc... I have a dual power port and they have always drawn my blood for lab (twice a week) from my arm. A chemo nurse did draw blood from both ports last week when I was running a temp for a blood culture. But, that was the first time since I had the ports put in.

      over 7 years ago
    • JennyMiller's Avatar
      JennyMiller

      My Port was used for all blood draws at the Cancer Center. The Lab Technicians could not do the draw. The Port/Infusion Nurses would do the draw. I was specifically told that if I went to my local hospital, not to let anyone use my port for anything. Since my Cancer Center was in another City, I would have the blood draw between chemo sessions done at my Doctors office whereby the Technician used my arm to access a vein.

      over 7 years ago
    • MLT's Avatar
      MLT

      My port was used for my blood draws. I always went to an infusion center for that and for flushing when my port wasn't being used. Had it taken out 6 months after chemo. Hope all goes well for you.

      over 7 years ago
    • parank's Avatar
      parank

      They use my port all of the time for blood draws. Mine isn't a power port either. The only time I have to have needle sticks in my arm is for my MUGA scans, and if I'd gotten a power port like I was supposed to they could have done those with it, too. There is no reason that I know of that they can't use a simple port for blood draws.

      over 7 years ago
    • Misty's Avatar
      Misty

      Hi SandraK, I had all kinds of trouble with my port when it came to drawing blood. They even had to X-ray it once to ensure that it was working properly. It turned out easier to simply have a blood draw at the center's lab so that everything was ready to go when it was time for chemo and I didn't have to wait for the lab results from a port draw (if they were going to get any blood from it at all).

      It was explained to me that sometimes a membrane forms over the port that makes it difficult to get a blood draw. The membrane does not affect fluids going in, so never had an issue with chemo. The blood draws from my arm were usually not bad at all, so I got used to my routine quickly.

      I will say one thing, I never once observed another patient having issues with port draws. It used to attract a lot of attention when my nurses would have me roll over on my side and cough, then switch over to the other side for the same thing. My favorite nurse, a Native American, was a riot. She did a "blood dance" around my chair and I "drummed" on my chair arm along with her. We ended up laughing like idiots. It really helped me, though (the laughing) as it did start a blood flow that time.

      over 7 years ago
    • Misty's Avatar
      Misty

      Hi again. After reading the other answers I wanted to add a couple of things. First of all, at our center all of the blood draws, as well as chemo, are done by chemo nurses. They do not have techs working in the Center.

      The other is about the lidocaine cream. Yes, it works, so be sure to ask for some. I had a Rx for it before starting chemo. A couple of times I forgot to use the cream and had to get the needle inserted without it. It really didn't hurt!

      Most of my chemo nurses use a little trick that helps a lot. They would count down from 3 and have you take a deep breath just as they inserted the needle. I don't know why this works, but it does. You might suggest trying this if they don't do it where you have your infusions.

      over 7 years ago
    • SandraK's Avatar
      SandraK

      Very helpful, very good input everyone! So probably at the cancer center, the nurses there will be able to draw blood from the port, but possibly there could be a problem using the port for blood draws. I don't know for sure if the 'vampires' as my oncol nurse called them, over there in the tiny room when they first take you back into center, are trained for ports, or not. I get my port this Thur and have my first chemo Mon, so I'll find out then. Misty, you cracked me up. I think I'm going to be jealous of your nurse! :D lilymadeline, I wonder if he just didn't know, being a PA, or if he was giving me info based on the surgeon he works with most. Niki0920, I'm ok with the regular doctor, or the hospital, if I get sick and have to go there, use the veins for blood draws. (and I don't want to freak them out :D )Those won't be so often. It's just the thought of a year of having weekly blood tests from my arm (actually the PA said that since they only took 2 lymph nodes I don't really have to worry about NOT having blood pressure and blood draws from my surgery side, must ask the actual surgeon if this is true).fastdog, that sounds like a good way to get extra exercise, considering the size of most hospitals. glam, that makes sense about, wearing it out. I hope to only, (Only, gee) have it a year, year and a half. So hopefully it'll last that long. Again, thanks everyone. It's good to hear other people's experiences.

      over 7 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar
      cam32505

      You do need an RN to draw blood, not the regular people in the blood lab. I had a second cancer while I still had my power port and the anesthesiologist refused to use it for my surgery and they sent a regular blood draw person the next day to draw blood. That's when I called my first onc and told him I wanted it removed because I had to have extra appts to have the port flushed and nobody wanted to use it. I like it, but the way hospitals are cutting back they don't have the trained staff to access it. But, for chemo, they should be able to access it with no problems.

      over 7 years ago
    • Mickeyfan28's Avatar
      Mickeyfan28

      I've had blood drawn from my port. It's still a needle XXX. My port made the chemo treatments much easier.

      over 7 years ago
    • suz55's Avatar
      suz55

      I never had my blood drawn from my port, but it was done by a tech in a lab one floor above the chemo center. Luckily, the techs were pros, and I rarely even had a mark from the samples. The only other time my port was used was for my blood transfusion when my blood counts were too low during my AC treatments. My nurses also used Misty's technique when accessing the port: count to 3 and then quick inhale of breath and very little pain sensation. Best of luck to you!

      over 7 years ago
    • baridirects' Avatar
      baridirects

      When I was receiving chemo, I would go over to the hospital the day before my infusion and get my labs drawn to make sure my counts were adequate to have the treatment. The lab techs were not permitted to access the port - only specially-trained and certified RNs can do that at my hospital. There were others in my "chemo club" who had their labs drawn through the port on the same day as their treatment, but waiting for the results made their already long day that much longer, so I was glad to do mine the other way. I finished chemo in late September, but I've retained the port, as I'll be having gallbladder surgery after the turn of the year. My surgeon said that she'd remove the port at the same time to save me from additional anesthesia, as long as the oncologist agrees. Until then, I go to the oncologist's office every 4 weeks to have the port flushed.

      Namaste,
      Christine

      over 7 years ago
    • FemaleinMotion's Avatar
      FemaleinMotion

      I had a Bard Power Port (2-sided), and while it was awesome for infusion, I never was able to get blood out of it. My infusion techs said that was something that happens in a few folks, and it's nothing to be alarmed about. The majority of people can get blood from their port. Good thing I had a pumping station in my left arm! God bless!

      over 7 years ago
    • DianaL's Avatar
      DianaL

      My port has only been used at the Oncologist's office when I go for checkups. At my PCP or even when I go into the hospital for surgery my port is not used. Still get needle sticks in my one good arm.
      I was told that regular doctor's offices are really not set up to draw from a port and if they do not know what they are doing I don't want them to try!

      over 7 years ago
    • terrilynn's Avatar
      terrilynn

      when i had blood draws before chemo, my port was never used for that, it gets used now when i go have it flushed once a month, they take blood from it. it was accsessed when i spent the night in hospital for blood draws as well.

      over 7 years ago
    • princess123's Avatar
      princess123

      I always get my blood test drawn from my arm. I am lucky to have Karen and nurse who knows what she's doing. I hardly feel it going in at all.

      over 7 years ago
    • Peggymerc01's Avatar
      Peggymerc01

      My port is not a power port and worked great for chemo and blood draws.
      Almost at second year from diagnosis and port is still working for blood draws.
      They don't use it for IV's when having CT scans. It does have to be flushed every 4-6 weeks.

      over 7 years ago
    • CAL's Avatar
      CAL

      Great responses here. I don't know the difference between a simple versus a power port (I had that one), but it is true that only an RN can draw from the port. I had mine put in before my chemo started and always went to the cancer center to have them draw my labs. If I had labs drawn a day or so before chemo was scheduled, the nurses were great about leaving the needle and the pigtail tubing in and flushing it then closing the slide clamp so I didn't have to be stuck at the port site again the day of chemo as they could just attach the IV tubing to the pigtail tubing..
      I did not have any problems with blood draws or chemo infusion from the port and even for my checkups after completing chemo and radiation, the cancer center nurses used my port for routine blood work. It did mean that I had to go to the clinic every 4 weeks to have it flushed so 9 months after completing chemo I decided to have it out. I could have kept it indefinitely but as wonderful as the cancer center staff was, I really didn't want to see them even once a month after spending so much time there during the diagnostic process and all the treatment. Now when I go for checkups I'll have to get stuck in the arm again but it's not very often.
      I did have a slightly weird reaction after my port was removed. Within a few weeks after having the port removed, the usual post op redness and bruising went away. The site still itched which I assumed was just the healing process so I would forget and rub it. Then I would bruise at the site. So I tried to not rub it but now 2 1/2 months later, if I rub it, it still bruises. I called my onco surgeon who put it in and took it out and he had me have a doppler ultrasound to be sure it wasn't something called a "false anerysm" like a small area on the wall of the vein that was weakened and causing a clot to form. Well, everything was fine - no anerysm-so he said it was probably just capillaries (tiny blood vessels) that formed around the scar and were close to the skin so they could bleed if I rubbed them too hard and then would appear as a bruise. He thought that it would take 7-9 months for the site to completely heal and he thinks this phenomena will go away as well. Just thought I'd share that as it was a little odd. Now I just have to remember not to rub it even if it does itch. :)

      over 7 years ago
    • marycamp's Avatar
      marycamp

      I've had 7 treatments and all my blood counts checks were drawn from my port. Never had a stick in the are. Good Luck I hope they use your port.

      over 7 years ago
    • ladyc's Avatar
      ladyc

      I have the power port and so far it has just been used for treatments.... Good luck... We will all be here to cheer you on and give encouragement.

      over 7 years ago
    • Blessed56's Avatar
      Blessed56

      Not everyone is trained to use the ports. Blood is drawn from mine every week that I have chemo, once they had to use the clot buster drug cause it clogged. Ive had it since beginning of September 2013. For me im only comfortable with my chemo team using my port.

      over 7 years ago
    • itsjustme736's Avatar
      itsjustme736

      The person that told you that has their info wrong. You can have your blood drawn though the port and then start your chemo all in one go round. I have this done every three weeks and then start my Herceptin. You will not feel like a pin cushion

      over 7 years ago
    • Debbie's Avatar
      Debbie

      Like most, I had the port from day one. All treatments and blood work went through the port. Boy, did it make everything so much easier.

      over 7 years ago
    • leslie48240's Avatar
      leslie48240

      Sandra...believe me...you will be very glad to have the port even if they only use it for the chemo. A blood draw is less painful from a regular vein anyhow...(if they do it right). The purpose of the port is mostly to save your veins from the harshness of the chemo....can ruin them forever. The only time they used my port to draw blood was for the blood test right before chemo...when I was all hooked up already (only one poke). Please go ahead with the port...very simple procedure. Healed quickly as just glue...no stitches. Doesn't show or feel uncomfortable once it heals. By a month or so into it you will not even be phased at all by a simple blood draw...the least of our worries (and I was terrified of needles before all this).

      over 7 years ago
    • Seinfeldfan's Avatar
      Seinfeldfan

      I have had blood drawn from my port, but I was told it had to be drawn by an RN and not a technician.

      over 7 years ago
    • cllinda's Avatar
      cllinda

      I have a power port and just love it. They were able to do blood draws, infuse the chemo, infuse the Herceptin and flush it out without having to have my arm veins used. It was truly a blessing. I have only one Herceptin left, and have been told they leave it in 6 months to a year, just in case. That means getting it flushed once a month or so, but it's worth it.

      over 7 years ago
    • Roses1018's Avatar
      Roses1018

      I have a port and never had trouble with blood drawers. I know they can have trouble getting blood but they have ways to help get a blood return. The only other thing is ask for the novacaine cream to put on before they put the needle in the port. That for me hurt really a lot but with the cream It did not bother me. Hope to get my port removed by March.

      over 7 years ago
    • HelenR's Avatar
      HelenR

      I had a port and it was used for everything from treatments to blood draws to iv meds and had no trouble with it even at the clinic I go to they drew blood form it instead of my arm. was a lot easier.

      over 7 years ago
    • maryjimhath's Avatar
      maryjimhath

      My port of almost 4years has been used for both. Usually if I'm just having some blood work done, I just let them use my arm because they have to have special people to access the port and it is just faster. If they are flushing my port or drawing blood right before chemo, then they use my port. Just the way it works for me. If anyone has problems with small veins or rolling veins, port would probably be best. Hope this helps!

      over 7 years ago
    • Kathy1's Avatar
      Kathy1

      Yes I also had a port implanted and glad I did. My blood counts were very low after each chemo treatment. My veins would collapse making it impossible to draw blood. They were able to get blood from my port allowing me to avoid the painful experience of so many sticks.

      over 7 years ago
    • mcshap's Avatar
      mcshap

      Never. My port worked every time for blood draws

      over 7 years ago
    • mcshap's Avatar
      mcshap

      Ps. My chemo nurses used a lidocaine spray before the draw so I didn't have to use the creme and wait.
      But I do remember now that there was an insurance issue and fortunately for me my insurance covered the chemo office doing my labs. Otherwise I would have had to go to a regular lab and they do not access ports. It's a shame really. But since I was covered, I made every place I went to use it.

      over 7 years ago
    • Marisol's Avatar
      Marisol

      I do not know about general blood tests, only as a breast cancer patient. Since I wear the port (October 2012) only once has blood been removed by the onc head nurse at onc day hospital from the outer vein at the elbow, where it is "fleshier" than in the inner hollow. Otherwise the port has been always used for chemo and onc blood tests, now that it seems I am a survivor it is flushed with heparine every 8 weeks. I do not wear any necklaces anymore, just the port, and it is a new spare part of me at least until end 2014.

      over 7 years ago
    • Deb77's Avatar
      Deb77

      I also have a Power Port. Looking through the comments below I guess it depends on the type of port you have. Not all nurses or lab techs/phlebotemists are trained on how to access the port and then how to close it off. I have never had blood drawn from my port. There are a number of steps to take to especially to reduce the risk of infection. You don't want an infection in your port! As you go through treatment you are more prone to infections if your numbers drop. It can happen very easily! Good luck!

      over 7 years ago
    • ggort's Avatar
      ggort

      I have a power port since July 2012andI amhappy I got it. Or every 2 weeks with chemo I would have to be poked. They draw blood from my port every 2 weeks. Some times when I have a CT Scan they use the port also but a few times the nurse was not experienced in using a port so I had to be poked, but she was perfect I didnt feel a thing.

      over 7 years ago
    • shortstop413's Avatar
      shortstop413

      My power port is used for chemo but blood draws are still done from a vein. The port has been a blessing.

      over 7 years ago
    • lilymadeline's Avatar
      lilymadeline

      Ports are used for drawing blood all the time, but the nurse has to be specially trained to do this. My cancer center always asks patients when they check in if they have a port or not, and if the patient does have a port the they immediately page the appropriate nurse to draw blood.To me it always looks like they prefer to draw blood from ports but that is just a personal observation because every cancer has their own way of doing things. Yours may not have enough trained nurses but it still hurts when the needle goes in anyway, I did very well with the spray stuff that freezes the area first, it was completely painless for me that way.

      over 7 years ago
    • SandraK's Avatar
      SandraK

      So, to answer my own question, now. In my case, my oncol office only uses the port for chemo treatments and not blood draws. I can live with that. I had thought that I would be saving my veins from a year's worth of chemo(herceptin) AND 18 weeks of blood draws, but it is what is is. I'm assuming, have not asked yet, that once I'm done with the chemo part I won't have to get weekly blood tests with the herceptin only treatments. Time will tell.

      over 7 years ago
    • ppsanta's Avatar
      ppsanta

      I have a regular port, since December 2013, and all blood has been drawn from it since with no problems. Thank goodness because the nurses could never find my veins, and when they did they rolled. I think I would ask the PA to at least try. Good luck!

      over 7 years ago
    • Paul's Avatar
      Paul

      Yes and have for more than 5 years now. Some blood must be drawn for my arms for different test though well over 90% is through my port. When my port has clogged, the staff uses a special flush to clear it when saline or heparin fall short.

      over 7 years ago
    • SandraK's Avatar
      SandraK

      Thought it was time for an update on this issue. I finished chemo almost 7 weeks ago, but am still getting herceptin infusions once every 3 weeks through December. The oncologist's office is still doing CBC's through a vein in my arm and I've made my peace with that. The port is working fine for the infusions. That's the important part. During the weekend I was in the hospital with low wbc the port was used for drawing a ton of blood for blood work and for a blood transfusion. It's been quite useful, but I'll still be getting rid of it as soon as possible. The scar remains tender, more so some times then others and the skin over the port is easily made tender, too. I've noticed that it hinders my free movement of my left arm. Too much and it's like the tissue in the area just gets really grouchy and uncomfortable, so while I'm glad I have it, it's a gonner as soon as possible. :D

      about 7 years ago
    • tatdai's Avatar
      tatdai

      i have a port and i have had it in for 7 years Anything to do with blood it comes out of the port I've been very lucky with it all blood tests chemo .You do have to go to your DR or RN to get anything done but most of the time i am there anyway. my DR told me i could leave it in as long as i wanted but my veins have all collapsed so i am leaving the port in for another 7 yrs if everything goes ok .i love my port .good luck ladies with your chemo and your ports

      over 6 years ago
    • SandraK's Avatar
      SandraK

      With the condition of your veins I can understand why you would keep it in. Hope it continues to work well for you!

      over 6 years ago
    • pinklady's Avatar
      pinklady

      I had a port that stayed in until 4years!! Loved it. avoided most vein sticks. took it out because it loop and knotted. wish he would put new one in. I have lymphedema so they can draw blood from only one arm and chemo pretty much destroyed all the veins.. hate needle sticks and usually takes 3 or 4 tries

      almost 5 years ago

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