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Chemotherapy: FOLFOX

Implanting A Port

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Where A Port Is Placed

A port must be near a large vein that goes into your heart - generally the superior vena cava vein directly above the heart. The port has a little tail (a catheter) which is stitched into the vein.  Any medication infused into the port goes directly into the heart. From there it is pumped throughout the body.

While the surgeon will pick the area near a blood vessel where the port has to be placed, you can generally tell the doctor where you want the port for comfort and perhaps for appearance. For example:

  • A woman may want the port inserted above her normal bra line to prevent chafing, or closer to the shoulder so the port (and ultimate scar) doesn't show through many tops.
  • Men may not want the port visible when the top button of a shirt is open.

It is advisable to not get too hung up on the placement of the port. It may be easier to think of it as one of the modern medical miracles that is being put in place to save your life.

Implanting A Port

  • A port is implanted under the skin (subcutaneously) in the upper chest, but it can sometimes be placed in the arm.
  • Port implanting happens through a minor surgical procedure which is performed on an outpatient basis with continuous sedation  much like the one used when you got a diagnostic procedure such as a colonoscopy. The patient never loses consciousness. For information about outpatient procedures, click here.
  • The procedure is so minimal that people are usually able to engage in social or other activities the same night although you may need to ice the incision area for comfort before going out and as soon as you return.

Choosing The Surgeon To Insert A Port

Generally the surgeon who implants a port is chosen by the treatment center.

If you have a choice, ask the nurses at the treatment center which of the surgeons has the most experience installing ports who has consistently has a high success rate. Choosing the best available doctor helps to minimize the chances the port doesn't work and that it has to be removed and reinserted. To learn more about choosing a surgeon, see Choosing A Surgeon.

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