A portacath, or mediport, procedure is a medical operation that implants a portacath device just below the skin in the chest, according to UAB Medicine. The device provides more comfortable vein access for individuals who need to have frequent blood withdrawals or drug treatments, such as those undergoing chemotherapy.
The portacath procedure is a minimally invasive procedure performed under a local anesthesia, as Mercy Angiography explains. A 3-centimeter long incision is made along the chest to place the port. A second, smaller incision is made in the neck to allow the catheter to enter the vein. Surgeons typically perform the procedure as an outpatient operation in which patients are discharged the same day.
The portacath device is commonly placed on the right side of the neck, as Sydney Interventional Radiology details. This is because the right internal jugular vein is large and close to the surface of the skin. Doctors advise patients to limit activities that involve the chest wall and upper arms following the procedure.
The risks associated with a portacath procedure are minimal, but they include damage to blood vessels, bruising and wound formation, as described by Mercy Angiography. Once the device is no longer needed, surgeons perform a similar procedure to remove the device.