Written by Sickle Cell Warrior on 24 November 2012
After years of dealing with varied hospitalizations, sickle cell, blood draws and IV sticks, eventually all our superficial veins (the veins that nurses are able to feel and poke) in our arms start to have scar tissue and deteriorate. Because sickle cell is a lifetime condition, there must be an alternative access point to give us the medicines, blood transfusions fluids and lab draws that we so desperately need.
The most recommended alternative is a Port-a-Cath (port for short). A Port consists of a reservoir (the portal) and a tube (the catheter). The port is implanted under the skin in the upper chest. It may appear as a bump under the skin in thinner people, and less visible in those with more meat on their bones. The catheter runs in a tunnel under the skin, going over the collar bone and then enters the large vein in the lower neck (the internal jugular vein). It is 100% internal so swimming and bathing are not a problem. The septum of the portal is made of a special self-sealing silicone rubber. It can be punctured up to one thousand times and therefore can be used for many years.
Before making the decision to have a port implanted, one should take note of the pros and cons. Here is a short list of the risks and benefits, collated from the Sickle Cell Warriors Facebook Page (which you should join if you haven’t already;)
That’s it. The 4-1-1 on Ports. If you need more information, check out this video below. Which ever decision to you (to get a Port or not to get a Port), ensure that you have all facts. Your doctor may just explain the rosy view, so hopefully, this post serves as a guide to give you the full picture.