The venous system is often accessed to obtain blood, administer medications and perform other medical procedures. Usually, the peripheral veins in the arms or legs are accessed. Some procedures, however, require long-term or repeated access to the bloodstream which may damage the peripheral veins and cause discomfort. Infusaport and Hickman’s catheter are devices used for long-term access to the bloodstream. These devices help to minimize patient discomfort and protect the venous system.
Once in place, an Infusaport or Hickman’s catheter helps to deliver intravenous administration of chemotherapy or other medications, IV nutrition, blood products, as well as blood testing.
Infusaport Insertion Procedure
- The devices are inserted under anesthesia. The Hickman’s catheter consists of a tube that your doctor uses to access the subclavian vein in the neck just below the clavicle (collar bone).
- The catheter is tunneled under the skin for some distance before entering the vein in order to prevent infection.
- The end of the catheter that exits the skin is used to draw blood or administer fluids.
- As the catheter hangs out of the skin even when not in use, it requires careful management.
- The Infusaport also accesses the subclavian vein, but the tube or cannula does not exit the skin and is connected to a port or reservoir that is placed under the skin.
- The overlying skin is sutured closed. When venous access is required, the skin is pierced with a needle and entry is gained into the port.
- The port is occasionally injected with an anticoagulant to prevent blockage from clotting.
- The Infusaport being completely embedded in the skin is convenient and requires minimal care.
Risks and Complications
As with any invasive procedure, the insertion of these devices may have certain complications that are rare. These include infection, clotting of the subclavian vein, puncturing the outer layers of the lung, and twisting of the tubing. The benefits of using these devices, however, far outweigh their potential risks.