Should I have a portacath?

Hi everyone
After about five years of various intravenous treatments (the last three herceptin alone) I am considering getting a portacath.
Most of the other people I know with secondaries have them, but one of the nurses who often ‘does’ me keeps saying she doesn’t think I need one. However - if I get another nurse, which I often do – they struggle and it can be quite painful. Also, my veins seem to be becoming more and more sore, I have the feeling they are quite fed up with it all now!
So I have almost decided to have one and then I read another post on here about someone having a problem with theirs - is this common? Or do people generally find them useful?

I have had my port for about 18 months and it has been a godsend. My veins are terrible and the only downside is that it can’t be used for the contrast dye for CT scans so we still have to play hunt the vein for that.For chemo the needle just goes in and that’s it. Apparantly mine is quite small so sometimes my chemo nurse has to reposition the needle. When not having chemo it just needs flushed every 4-6 weeks. I can shower, swim etc so can carry on a relatively normal life. Mine is a little bump below my collarbone, I notice it but other people tell me that they wouldn’t notice it.
Best Wishes

Hi Justy

I’ve also had a port for some time (since July 2007) and it’s been great. Had a bit of bruising when it was first put in but no other difficulties and they usually manage to access it pretty easily. Know there are a few people who have had problems with theirs - Debs and Deirdre certainly have posted about it - but most don’t.

Think assuming you are going to continue with iv treatments, the veins are only going to get worse. So you may end up with one anyway at some stage - might as well be now and get the benefit of it?? Depends really how you feel about having it put in, I would have thought.

Kay xx

Hi Justy,
think it may be my post, don’t let it influence you. I am on avastin which can cause problems with healing so when I had my port put in the nurse puckered it I blame her for causing the problem. With the hickman line because it is in the left side and I had radio therapy the consultant had a massive struggle getting it in because of damaged tissue. I really should have had a port putin sooner so if you were to ask me I would say go for a port.
Love Debsxxx

Hi Justy,

I am another one who has a port for some time now and wouldnt be without it. Mine was put in November 06 and I was pro-active in getting it. The only veins they could access were very fine ones on the back of my hand so I asked the oncologist if he could arrange for me to have one before it became a problem. I think for me it was the best solution as I will be on intravenous drugs for the rest of my life.


Hi Justy,

I’ve had a port since June 2007 and it’s been a godsend. I am so glad I took my surgeons advice.


I’ve only had mine a couple of weeks but have forgotten it is there already. Easy peasy.


I’ve had a Hickman line since last October. I was pretty ignorant about the difference between a Hickman and a portocath when I had it done. A portocath is hidden under the skin and therefore unobtrusive, you can swim more easily etc. A Hickman line is a 12 inch piece of tubing which hangs out of a wound on your chest. That’s what I got. Different surgeons seem to have different prefernces and in my area they don’t do portocaths, only Hickmans…so thats what I got even though I have private insurance and sometimes you get more ‘choices’

Anyway I have got used to the Hickman though it is just one more thing which reminds me I’m a cancer patient…Mine hasn’t got infected; I have to wear a bra at night so I don’t inadvertantly pull at it. It is wonderful having bloods taken and chmeo given through the line…though I still have to have my vein used for CT scan, and stupidly also when I have blood tests to check my blood thickness (for blood clot) Don’t ask!


I don’t know much about it but when I started chemo again last October I asked for one as my veins were so bad. Nurse very keen and gave me lots of information, but oncologist very against because of risk of infection -this may be due to the fact that my cancer had spread to the lining of my heart, and maybe that is a higher risk. I never actually asked that question, as they swopped my chemo to tablet form, and I now have all my bloods and dye for scans in my lymphodema arm, which is easy and has caused no real problems.
So don,t know if that is any help to you.


Yes, I had a problem with mine. But I think my problem is quite unusual - I was allergic to the stitches they used to secure it so the wound never healed. I did end up with some horrible infections which, because I was on chemo, got complicated (hospital in stays and so on). But I really wouldn’t put you off having one. It was so easy having my treatment and, when I need one again, I will be going back to have one put in (this time with a different sort of stitch!).


Hi guys
Thank you very much for your comments re the Portacath - I think I will get one. The general consensus seems to be they are a good thing, so it will be fingers crossed I don’t have any problems!
I am hoping to get one of the new ones they can also do CT scans through - the hospital is finding out whether they can do them (I have private health through work).
Anyone got any experience of these?
If not I will report back if I get one!
Thanks Justyx

Hi Justy - i can echo others comments - portocath makes treatment much easier but have no experience with the one you mention - they have to play hunt the vvein when i have scan and the stuff hurts when it goes through so yours sounds like a good idea…good luck with it , Jayne

I’m also due to have a portacath shortly - as veins are now defunct, so I am really interested in the ones you can have a CT scan through/with.

When my port was put in a few weeks ago, I asked if it could be used for CT scans and was told ‘yes’ as long as the contrast doesn’t have to go through too quickly. Depending upon which area they are scanning, I think they have to inject the contrast at different pressures, and they could ‘explode’ under high pressure. If it is not possible to use it for the contrast dye I will carry on doing what I have been doing for the past couple of years - go to the chemo suite and get them to put a cannula in for me.


I had my scan yesterday and the radiologist confirmed that they are almost there with a portocath that you can use for all CT scans. Just as well as my arms have given up and my hands are starting to look a bit the worse for wear.
The needle was put in this time by a young resident who clearly hadn’t seen my notes. He asked about my cancer - how many nodes taken out (19), how many clear (19), size of cancer (T1) and brightly commented - well, you’ll be fine then… Poor lamb, he looked so crestfallen when I told him I was stage 4.

x Barbara

Thanks everyone for the information about portocaths. Good luck with putting your newesr sort in Justy.
I had chemo in 2006 and then I had to abandon it after 4 sessions because my veins packed in! They couldn’t put hickman in as I was too sore in that area.
I am due to start iv pamidronate on fri 13th for at least 6 sessions and then increase it if it suits my bone mets. i can have the 1st session through my veins but ask for a portocath.
What do you all think? Any suggestion and do you think that is a good idea.