What risks does a port present?

Unfortunately, a port is not for everyone, especially patients with a history of forming blood clots, who have had previous vascular access surgery, or who are not emotionally prepared to have an implanted medical device. Like any vascular access procedure, there is always a risk of complications, including venous blood clots, skin erosion, infection, a collapsed lung, or clotting of the port catheter. Talk to your physician or nurse about these and other risks, and whether a port or other treatments are right for you.

What are the possible complications associated with an implantable port?

Use of an implanted port carries risks associated with a minor surgical procedure and vascular access.   Potential complications include:  

  • Port clogging
  • Skin erosion
  • Vein erosion
  • Collapsed lung
  • Nerve damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Blood clot formation
  • Port catheter breakage
  • Scarring at the insertion site
  • Bleeding at the insertion site
  • Fluid buildup around the lungs
  • Port rotation or flipping while implanted
  • Allergic reaction to the materials of the port
  • Leakage of medicine or IV fluid from the port
  • Accidental cutting or puncturing of blood vessels
  • Redness and inflammation at the port insertion site
  • Improper port access leading to medicine or IV fluid being injected into tissue that surrounds the port

What if I have a question or suspect a problem?

After the procedure you will see some redness and tenderness in the area. This should go away in 24 to 48 hours. However, contact your doctor or nurse if you notice unusual changes in the skin such as increased swelling, redness, soreness or drainage. If you have pain, fever, chills, shortness of breath, dizziness or drainage, contact your doctor right away.

What do I do if my doctor or nurse is unavailable?

You should be given a wallet-sized Medical Alert Identification Card. This card has important information about the port. With this information, other medical personnel will be able to help you.

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Hear from real patients

“For both patients and nurses, it’s all about ease of therapy. You can have all your infusions and blood work done through your port…”

– Debbie P. (Oncology nurse and cancer survivor)