Portacaths & PET Scans

On Monday I had my fifth cycle of Pembrolizumab and also had a portacath inserted.  I’ve had numerous problems over the past few years with my veins, they are so tiny it often takes two or three attempts to take blood, and as I am having it taken so regularly it has become a painful and frustrating process.

Owning to my previous bad experience when I went to have my last PET CT scan my Oncologist suggested I should consider having a line fitted in order to make the whole process easier. Prior to starting Pembrolizumab I went into hospital to see a nurse  who explained my options; a PICC line, hickman line or portacath.

After thinking about it, I decided on a portacath. My main reason is that there isn’t a fixed external component with this type of device, so it seemed far more descreet and easier to manage than the other options. Essentially a portacath is an implant, soft plastic tube with a rubber disc at the end that can be used to draw blood and also give me drugs.

The surgeon who performed the operation explained the whole process so clearly, the likelihood of infection etc, so I felt much more at ease having met with him beforehand. I’d not been sleeping  very well at all the week before, a couple of nights I’m sure I only had about 2-3 hours sleep, I think I was playing the scenario over in my head too much and starting to feel really anxious about it.

When the time came, the surgeon inserted the port under the skin of my chest, and the tube into a vein near the heart. Although it felt unpleasant I wasn’t in any pain and the whole process took about 45 minutes in total. No matter how many times I’ve had local anaesthetic over the years I still feel nervous! The sensation of the needle going into my neck made me winch and jump. I wouldn’t have been so bothered if it wasn’t In my eye line!

The chemotherapy team were able to use the portacath that afternoon, making the whole process much easier. Despite looking unsightly It’s healing nicely now. Hopefully it’ll mean a lot less stress, drama and pain every time I go into hospital for treatment.

I am now waiting on a date for my next PET CT scan before my next cycle of treatment. The waiting game begins again…

I’ve also decided I need to try and get active again and have joined the local gym, I just need some time for my chest to heel first.

4 thoughts on “Portacaths & PET Scans

  1. I think you made the right decision, I know how stressful you have found it when they can’t find your vein and end up hurting you. And great to hear you’re getting active again – you’re a champ Jo xxxx


  2. Hi, I’m having the same vein issues with repeated chemo. Today a portacath was suggest to me, sounds like a good idea. I have fairly regular PET/CT scans. Did you have the contrast for these administered through the portacath too when you had them? Thanks, and good luck with treatment!

    Liked by 1 person

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