Portacath not used or flushed for 2 years - is it safe?

I’ve got a portacath which I had for chemo in 2013.  It was used once more in 2014 for a CT scan, when they couldn’t get a vein for the contrast.


since then, it hasn’t been used or flushed.  Nobody told me that it needed to be flushed monthly.


Anyway, as I was starting chemo again recently I asked if they could use my port.  It did get it flushed in preparation, They were aware it hadn’t been done for a long time,   However later that day I ended up in A&E with really bad chest pains, and they gave me Oralmorph  although they never found the cause of the pains.  


Now I am wondering if flushing the port might have caused the problems, perphaps if there was some small blockage perhaps? 


For my first chemo they didn’t have the correct needles to use my port so they used a vein which took a while to locate .  I am due for next chemo on Tuesday and they said they would use port, but now I am wondering if it’s dangerous to use my port ?  


I tried contacting the manufacturers but all they said was that they recommend the port is flushed every month, so were non committal.


its a long shot, but has anyone else been in this situation, where a portacath has been unused and not flushed for a long time? 


i dont want want to end up with a blood clot or something, but then, I also don’t want them searching for ever -deteriorating veins for each chemo.  


 I am now wondering about a PICC line, I don’t know how that is done, but is it poss to have it done when chemo has already started? 


Thanks for any info xx



Hello spudgirl
Sorry don’t know about portacaths as I think they must be a new invention since I had chemo in 2004!!
I had a bog standard picc line …it was painless to fit and take out but I had to have that one flushed every week. I think they fit them in better places now …mine was in my elbow joint and a nuisance when I used the car handbrake or changed gear on driving as it pulled .
It does sound a bit weird it not being flushed for so long though …but I’m not an expert. Once again there will be ladies reading that will no doubt help you.
Carolyn xxx


I have a port fitted and I have to have it flushed every 6-8 weeks, I would definately get it checked

Karen xx

Hi Spudgirl,


im not an expert on portocaths, but I think they flush them with heparin…which should dissolve a clot. I wonder if you had a scan after the chest pains? Were they worse on breathing?  I am on a form of heparin all the time, and i got similar chest pains, which my gp and I think are due to reflux(same nerves) and the onc thought could be due to hairline fractures in my ribs dues to bc.


However,  i  worried about a pulmonary embolus…there is a d dimer test they can do, if its done soon after the pain occurs. I forgot to ask for one, but my pain. Wasnt related to inspiration  it went away after a glass of milk and it didnt recur…


nb, I havent got a port o cath yet, but i understand they leave you with more freedom than picc lines…you could ask for an ultrasound or other scan to check patency, or at least have a chat in depth with the onc about things before your chemo.


best Wishes Moijanx

Thanks all!  


I saw my Onc today and told him my worries, and he wasn’t really concerned because he said as  I’d had it flushed for the first time in 2 years a couple of months ago, without any problems then it was obviously working well,   He wasn’t worried that I’d ended up in A&E that night with chest pains, as he said that was probably coincidence and not related to the port,  


I expressed concern about what if there was a blockage and it could force a clot through my veins if it was used, I have a good imagination).  ;-).  He said it’s always a possibility but the benefits of the port outweighs any minor chance of something like that happening.


Anyhooo, the upshot is, he is happy for me to use the port,  he said if there is a problem it will be almost immediately apparent and they’ll deal with it. 


I do love my port, (well as much as you can love some like that ;-). )  


Its so much better than the constant search for a vein that they can get something through, and it does leave me free to read, eat a sarnie, (okay chocolate !) etc, while having chemo .


Thanks all! xx




Oh that is good news yes I totally agree my port was fantastic during chemo think on the first chemo I looked like dot to dot

Take care

Karen xxx

Hi, yes, so pleased for you



All went well with the port yesterday, no blockages etc :slight_smile:


The needle was too big though and sat about an inch proud of my skin, as apparently most UK ports are quite deep and big, but I had mine done in Belgium and it’s quite small and neat.  It meant I had to sit very still throughout chemo so it didn’t get dislodged but I didn’t mind as it was a much more pleasant experience than using my veins.  They are buying in smaller needles for my next chemo :slight_smile:



which hospital are you at?  Heard that they o ky like using ports they put in!?